After an equipment glitch hampered the rollout of police body cameras in April, the Chesterfield Police Department has announced the program is back on track with 240 body cameras currently on the street and 11,000 video recordings, thus far.
A spokesperson for the department said that additional cameras will be put in service each week as more officers go through the required training for the devices. The goal is to have a total of 450 police officers equipped with cameras over the next few months.
The initial rollout was stalled with approximately 50 of the cameras which had been put in place had to be pulled off the street because of an issue with cables that connect the camera and controller becoming overheated. The cables were described as “hot to the touch” and so all the cameras were pulled by the company awarded the body camera contract, Axon. The company was formerly known as Taser International.
All of the videos recorded by police will be stored on a cloud-based storage system provided by Axon. So far, officers have averaged 343 videos each day. The debate of whether or not law enforcement agencies should require officers to wear body cameras has garnered increased debate over the past few years, especially in light of several high-profile police shootings.
One of the most controversial of those incidents was the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson. At the time of the controversial shooting, more than 75 percent of law enforcement agencies in the country were not using body cameras. This has led to many criminal justice advocates, as well as many law makers, to push legislation requiring the cameras.
There are several benefits of police body cameras, including the increase of police accountability and collection of evidence. Many police departments find that once officers are equipped with the cameras, the number of citizen complaints sharply decrease.
In Chesterfield, the cameras are being given to patrol officers and patrol sergeants and will be used mostly for incidents such as traffic stops or crimes which are allegedly in progress.
In a discussion regarding the body cameras, Attorney Braswell of the Price Benowitz Law Firm commented, “I think it should be a requirement of every law enforcement agency in the country that body cameras be part of the standard equipment for every officer. It is a critical component in making sure officer do not cross the line into unacceptable — or dangerous — behaviors.”