A lot of noise has been made in the media about the importance of body cameras for law enforcement. Many agencies are working on ways to incorporate cameras, and others are trying to come up with funding. Legislation is even being considered to make it mandatory for officers to have body cameras.
While other towns are trying to figure out a way to get body cameras for their officers, Bluffdale police have been using cameras as part of their daily routine since November.
Bluffdale City contracts with Saratoga Springs for its police services. In August 2014, prior to the Sept. 12 officer-involved shooting of Darrien Hunt in Saratoga Springs, Bluffdale’s police department applied for a grant for the body cameras from The Department of Homeland Security.
At the November Bluffdale City Council meeting, Corporal Shane Taylor reported that testing had been completed and a model had been chosen. The police department received a grant of $3,300 from The Department of Homeland Security.
Then when city council members found out that all that stood in the way of the police department getting body cameras was an additional $3,200, they unanimously decided to fund the remaining costs of the cameras.
“I don’t think we can get them quick enough,” Mayor Derk Timothy said.
Two days later, Taylor placed an order for the body cameras. As soon as the cameras arrived in November, all Bluffdale officers immediately put them to use.
“This had been in the works since August. We were way ahead of the curve which is why we got these so fast. It takes time to write grants and get funded,” Taylor said.
Bluffdale police began testing cameras last spring. They tested eight different types of cameras before decided on VidMics by Safety Innovations, an Orem company. Safety Innovations brought the first body worn safety cameras to the open market, and is a top choice among law enforcement.
Most officers already wear a lapel microphone that attaches to their radio, so adding an additional piece of equipment has been easy.
The department upgraded the batteries in the VidMics from 10 to 16.5 hours. Another feature of the VidMics is that when activated they back-capture the last 30 seconds of video.
At the end of an officer’s shift, data from the camera is uploaded to a server. The amount of time the data is stored depends upon its content. It might be burned onto a DVD and placed into evidence, cyber-stored for an unknown amount of time, or, if considered non-evidentiary, it will be deleted. Officers are able to view video content, but the only people able to edit or copy the data are administrators.
“It’s been a very smooth transition; our officers are very excited about this. It allows us to depict what really occurred. Kudos to Bluffdale City for helping us get these cameras,” Taylor said.