Public Safety considers adding body worn cameras to crime fighting arsenal

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The Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security, along with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, are now testing body worn cameras.

Body worn cameras are exactly what it sounds like. They are cameras placed on an officer’s body. The cameras record what is directly in front of that person.

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs is in Washington, D.C., to attend an event where a group of law enforcement agencies from across the country are meeting to discuss topics like body worn cameras.

“This is an opportunity for him to also work with other cities on (how) they’re addressing this. Is it something we should move towards? Is it something other cities are saying ‘Wow, this is bigger than what we imagined and the cost is so much’?,” said Gary Coons, Director for the Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security.

Coons said they have been testing a handful of cameras during special events like the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration. Officers on patrol have not been issued these cameras to test, though.

Coons stressed the tests are extremely preliminary. He said they have been testing body worn cameras since last year.

“There’s a lot of back-end work that’s got to be conducted prior to going to this type of system,” Coons said.

Coons said they have a couple of different styles of cameras, for example one that goes over the ear. Coons said they are concerned with the fact that the camera only gives one point of view, though

“It’s one angle of that camera that you’re seeing in that video. It may not be what’s happening around that whole situation. So, you’re not seeing what the officer is actually seeing,” Coons said.

Right now, both agencies are working together to determine whether body worn cameras are a necessary investment.
Riggs is expected to return Wednesday night. Coons said they will discuss what he has learned and whether they should move forward with making an investment.

Coons said there are many unanswered questions they will discuss.

“What are the policies out there? How are people addressing this? What complications are they seeing? (Are) there pros/cons to the body worn style cameras (involving) police officers?” Coons said.

Coons said they would also need to figure out who would use the cameras, how long officers would keep the cameras turned on and when, as well as how long they would keep the video stored in their database.

“There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done and to make sure that it is something fiscally that we should do,” Coons said.

Coons stressed, if the investment is made, it would not take away from the cameras the agencies currently uses during their operations.