Bringing Transparency to Monroe PD, WA
In Monroe, Washington, police have turned to Reveal body cameras in a bid to increase transparency and accountability with the public.
“The public wants transparency, and we want to be transparent,” Deputy Police Chief Ken Ginnard explained.
Officers at the Monroe Police Department now wear Reveal body cameras mounted on their uniform jumpsuits or jackets during their shifts to record interactions with the public. The project went live earlier this year after a successful six-month trial period in 2016.
With a force of 33, Monroe has one of the smaller police departments in Snohomish County. Yet it’s the first municipal agency to take the step and add body cameras.
In criminal investigations, the videos are forwarded to prosecutors as potential evidence for charges and trial, but it’s the unique 2” front facing screen that is hoped to make a big difference.
“So far, people’s eyes seem to be drawn to the screen,” said Javier Patton, a motorcycle officer who’s been with the department about a decade. The screen shows what is being recorded in front of the officer, and allows people to see themselves being recorded. This has been shown all over the world to alter behaviour favourably; people are more calm which in turn reduces verbal and physical aggression, keeping officers safe.
Officer Patton also talked about the benefits of being able to adjust the camera head on the Reveal body cam to make sure the right frame is being captured.
“The camera can swivel, and that’s useful during traffic stops,” he said.
At the end of a shift, the officers place their cameras in a docking station that uploads the files to a server with the minimum retention period of 60 days. Evidential footage is kept for longer, as dictated by the department.
“I think a lot of people are accepting this,” Patton concluded. “They see we are being held accountable.” Which can only be good for both Monroe Police and it’s citizens.