October 2, 2015
Coopertown Officer Zach Roesler wearing and using his WOLFCOM VISION police body camera on duty!
“We designed the WOLFCOM VISION to be one of the most configurable police body cameras on the market because we understand that police departments differ in their police body camera policies. The Coopertown Police Department appreciates the VISION’S ability to be switched into a voice-only recorder and still camera so it can better meet their policy outlines respecting citizen privacy rights. We know the VISION will serve them well in their police body camera program goals!” said WOLFCOM Founder Peter Austin Onruang.
Chief Laurence Dennis is managing his department’s police body camera program. “With the dangers and liability officers face today, it just seemed like a good step to take [purchasing police body cameras]. The officers wanted them and it just makes sense.” said Dennis.
The police department has 5 officers and each one has been issued their own VISION body camera. “We just got them in and put them into operation and so far, so good. We’re getting use to using them. The officers like the different features. They like that you can switch it to audio mode or use it to take still pictures. They also like the camera’s compact size,” said Dennis.
“I like the ease of use and that the cameras are secure and officers can’t tamper with them. The only person who has full access to the video footage is me. We set it up so that the officers wear the cameras for their work week and at the end of the week I download the footage to an external drive. I clear the camera’s files and the cameras are waiting for them before the start of their shifts. This way it’s not something I’m dealing with every day.” said Dennis.
“We just started using them and just set up the system to review the footage. We contacted the White Bluff Police Department to ask them about how they handled their data storage and we decided to use an external hard drive to store the videos. We like the video quality a lot. It seems to be working quite well.” said Dennis.
“Our department police body camera policy is fairly concise. We researched police body camera policies. Many police agencies’ body camera policies state that officers must record everything, but we have limits and options for citizen privacy concerns. The policy advises officers how to use the cameras. It defines access and supervisory roles. Use of the cameras is only for official duty. There are restrictions with undercover operations and not using it in situations where no crime has been committed, in places where citizens expect a reasonable expectation of privacy, like in a locker room…in situations where no crime has been committed but there are privacy concerns, officers are allowed to record audio only. For example, in a recent case elsewhere officers responded to a nude female locked out of her apartment. Rather than have that video become public record if our officers were faced with a similar situation, they are allowed to switch to audio only mode to protect citizens’ privacy, while still protecting our officers against claims of misconduct.” said Dennis.
“Also in cases where officers enter a private home and no crime has been committed, they must get permission to record. If not and the camera records the layout and items inside of a private home, that video becomes public record and anyone can come in and request to see that video. The concern is that a potential criminal can come in and see the video, and now they know the layout of the home and possessions of value inside it.” said Dennis.
“Our body camera goals are to protect our officers against false complaints and to use the cameras to record evidence. We use the public awareness light on the VISION to let citizens know they’re being recorded. Suspects tend to adjust their behavior when they know they’re being recorded. This way they can’t tell a different story in court. One of the most common citizen complaints is that an officer was rude on a traffic stop. With the body cameras we’re able to show exactly what happened, what the officer said and how the officer behaved. We also use the cameras as a training tool. I’ll randomly review the footage to see if there’s any behavioral or officer safety issues they may not be aware of, so it has great value as a training tool.” said Dennis.