FOP calls for body cams, license plate reading system for IMPD

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Fraternal Order of Police called for the city to bring body cameras to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers. The push comes as part of a citywide request for new crime-fighting technology.

In addition to body cams, the FOP called for a license plate reading (LPR) system and a gunshot detection system. License plate readers can be put on police cars or around the city like the blue light cams to let police see who is coming and going when a crime occurred. The gunshot detection system would allow police to pinpoint where shots were fired.

The organization has been working on the proposal since May. It’s part of its “Think Bigger” initiative.

As for body cameras, FOP President Rick Snyder urged the city to consult with top vendors and acknowledged that it would be a long process to get one for every officer in the department.

“The time is now to bring the issue of body-worn cameras into focus,” Snyder said.

IMPD undertook a pilot project on body cameras in 2014 and 2015, which showed the effectiveness and limitations of cameras as well as the cost. Snyder said officers responded positively to the pilot project. Cameras can help with evidence and reduce confrontations when people realize they’re being recorded, he said.

Snyder said the amount of storage space required for camera footage is daunting. All video must be retained in case of a complaint or for evidence.

“I appreciate that we didn’t just jump on this,” he said, referring to a body cam program. “We’ve now built up our infrastructure in the city of Indianapolis where now it appears we can handle this. Now we’ve got to have the tough discussion. How much are we willing to pay?”

Snyder noted that the funding would be in addition to the money the department is already spending. He didn’t believe IMPD could make cuts in other areas. But as Indianapolis touched on another grim milestone with a record 159 murders in 2018, he wonders how long the city can wait.

“We must acknowledge that the capital city of the state of Indiana has set another record for the number of criminal homicides for the fourth consecutive year,” he said.

“That equates to someone being murdered every 55 hours in Indianapolis. While many point to various factors for the cause of such unprecedented violence within our city, we are concerned with our tendency to lay these statistics, stories and strife solely at the feet of our police professionals or any one elected official.”

Snyder characterized the homicide trend as a societal issue in urban and rural areas around the country.

The FOP also addressed the number of officers leaving IMPD. Last year, 110 officers left the department. In the first quarter of 2019, 40 more officers are scheduled to leave.

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