IMPD launches body camera listening sessions

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Before the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department invests as much as $3 million in a body worn camera system for up to 800 patrol officers and supervisors, the department is embarking on a listening tour of the community to determine citizen reaction to the potential recording of most officer encounters in the city.

“The public meetings are very important, we’re going to have six meetings all in the course of the next two weeks, all in the late afternoon, early evening hours,” said Major Harold Turner, coordinator of the pilot project. “These are very important of course because any time you have a police-community partnership and relationship, you have to have the input from the community.”

After a couple of dry runs in the past, IMPD will launch a pilot program on middle shift in three districts later this month to test body cameras on a limited basis.

In Lawrence, 44 police officers have worn uniforms and driven cars equipped with camera technology for the past two years.

“We’ve been saying for quite some time, for years actually, that an officer should behave as if they are being recorded,” said Deputy Chief Gary Woodruff. “There’s video everywhere.”

The Lawrence Police Department leases its system with cloud storage of video for $66,000 a year.

The IMPD proposal would also lease equipment while storing the data in the cloud as well as pay for staffing and software to export and redact the video.

LPD system purges obsolete video after 190 days.

“The officers are asked to have the cameras going on on every incident they’re dispatched on,” said Woodruff. “There are many agencies that are using body worn cameras now and if somebody does have privacy concerns we’re happy to be very sensitized to those privacy concerns. The last thing we want to do is make somebody feel uncomfortable.”

Woodruff said Marion County prosecutors are being given access to the Lawrence video for trial preparation and proposed upgrades may add shot detection technology to the current system.

In Hendricks County, law enforcement officers were recently warned to consider turning off their body cameras while engaged in private discussions with prosecutors about cases and the filing of charges.

In a memo obtained by FOX59, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Lindsey Walker wrote that a defense attorney, through the discovery process, obtained un-redacted video of a client’s incident that included audio of the arresting officer calling the on-duty prosecutor to discuss charging strategy.

“(T)he case may be in jeopardy b/c it brings up issues that the defense is now raising after hearing the private conversation between the prosecutor and the officer,” wrote Walker. “These conversations are protected as work product on a case.”

Walker ends her email with suggestions about either turning off the system or advising the deputy prosecutors that they are being recorded and reminding investigators to redact the tape before revealing it in discovery.

“The intended purpose for this study it’s a feasibility study to determine whether or not the police department, IMPD, whether we are going to invest the time and significant amount of money to actually have the body worn cameras, to actually have the program,” said Turner.

The IUPUI School of Public and Environmental Affairs is conducting an online survey here to determine citizen concerns regarding the IMPD body camera project.

A community listening session will be held in each IMPD district during the first half of March. The schedule can be found below:

  • Southeast District
    March 4 at 6:00 pm
    Southeast Community Services
    901 Shelby
  • Downtown District
    March 5 at 5:30 pm
    City Way YMCA
    430 S. Alabama
  • Northwest District
    March 7 at 6:00 pm
    International Market Coalition
    3685 Commercial
  • Southwest District
    March 11 at 6:00 pm
    Friendship Missionary Baptist Church
    1301 Goodlet
  • North District
    March 12 at 7:00 pm
    Zion Hope Baptist Church
    5950 E 46th
  • East District
    March 14 at 6:00 pm
    Eastern Start Baptist Church, J229 – 2nd Floor of Jewel Conference Center, use north entrance
    5750 E 30th

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