One year on with Reveal Body Cameras - City of Clare Police, MI
How is your body-worn video program going?
So far it’s going well. We have 8 full-time officers, 4 part-time officers and 13 reserve officers. We have enough RS1-SX cameras for every full-time officer a couple of others which are for general purposes, used by the part-time officers and reserve officers.
We are in the process of evaluating the RS2-X2. We’ve had one of them being used by our officers, but mostly we have RS1-SX cameras.
The best thing about the cameras is that it is on and off. Nothing else to it. The fact that it is a simple on, off means that it’s easy to use and you don’t have to think about it.
A big thing has also been that the cameras are a deterrent. Before, attorneys would be able to argue police integrity or his word against hers, but now we present the video to them and they are saying things like “how can you fight against what you’re seeing?”
We’ve developed our own body camera usage policy as well, based on a template and we have customized it for our use.
How did the officers receive the cameras?
At first, the officers were a bit hesitant, thinking big brother was watching. But we have a really good chief of police with a very clear goal for the cameras which is to help the guys wearing them. Once the officers saw what his vision was they understood what they were there for and now everybody is on board with it.
Especially after the cameras were successfully used in a number of cases to exonerate complaints against the officers. Then we started to see how valuable they really were.
What about other stakeholders?
Everybody is 100% behind it.
Right now we’re the first to be using them around here which means everybody has had to get used to them. The courts are experiencing them for the first time, for example, although that’s the nice thing about these cameras – when you have footage, you don’t have to go to court. And it’s reducing our court appearances significantly, which means there is often no charge to us where there would have been before.
The public has received it pretty well too. When we came to the UK and saw the RS3-SX being used by Hampshire Constabulary in Portsmouth, we saw how the front-facing screen was being used to be open to the public and how they were happy with it. That’s what got us set on body cameras really.
And in some cases, where people don’t want to see that they’re being recorded, we can use the covers.
But there has been a lot of positivity around it. Now that body cameras are a bit more known, people come up to us and say “are you wearing body cameras?” And they are impressed when they find out we were actually doing it a long time before most other departments. They are impressed by our pro-active stance on policing.
What are you doing about storage and evidence management?
We’re using DEMS and we’re on the latest version now. We have DEMS installed on our network which is server-based and we have a separate hard drive for video storage.
It’s working out really well for us, we have officers upload the videos and add notes to them which is easy to do.
The ability to create custom retention policies in DEMS 3.5 is a great feature. We do really like that a lot. It means we don’t have to store files longer than we need to which frees up space on the hard drive.
We’re also uploading other forms of evidence into DEMS, we’re actually using it to store our in-car video as well as our body-worn video. Before we were just saving our in-car video onto the hard drive of our computers and archiving it by year and complaint number. But now it is much more secure in DEMS.
How has your overall experience of Reveal been?
Gary has been a great resource to us. We know Reveal is growing in the States and we’re looking forward to seeing you grow and increase your support to look after more departments.