IMPD launching new pilot program to test, study body cameras

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis Metropolitan police will launch a program to study the feasibility of body cameras for the department.

Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD Chief Bryan Roach made the announcement Monday, saying they would seek feedback from the community, rank-and-file officers and residents during the pilot program.

Officers who work the busiest shifts in the North, East and Southeast districts will get the cameras. The city and department will explore the benefits and drawbacks of body cameras. Indianapolis communities will also have the chance to weigh in.

"We will do our best to reach out to those that are disenfranchised from the government and from the police,” said Capt. Harold S. Turner, who will manage the project for IMPD. “We want to hear from them. At the end of the day, this is probably protecting them more than anyone else in our community."

Last month, the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police advocated a body camera program for IMPD. In response to Monday's announcement, Rick Snyder, FOP president, released this statement:

“We are pleased to see the Mayor and departmental leaders move swiftly to launch a feasibility study for a Body Worn Camera Pilot Program for the IMPD.

However, we strongly encourage a review process longer than 60 days to make such an important decision," the statement read:

Additionally, we are hopeful that our City County Council leaders will now take the necessary step to create a “Truth In Funding” Commission to analyze the upfront and long term costs of such a program.

It will take all of us to come to the table, set politics aside and work together on this initiative.”

Community leaders say the believe the program will be a good step towards building trust and transparency between residents and the department.

“ I think it  does protect the police officers too and it protects the community. So when there is an officer that does something inappropriate then we would expect if the camera shows that for action to be taken," Reverend Charles Harrison with the Ten Point Coalition said.

The department undertook a pilot program in 2014 but was unable to get enough grant money for expansion. Since then, however, much has changed in terms of technology and cost.

“In light of the lower cost, in light of the greater community involvement and the positive examples that we see in comparable cities—comparable cities across the country that are already implementing similar programs—I am eager for our city, the city we call home, Indianapolis, to finally join this next evolution in policing,” Hogsett said.

"This allows me as the police chief to go to the mayor and the City-County Council at this point, and say this is what a body-worn program would cost the city," Roach said.

The pilot program will likely launch in March and last through May. If the pilot is successful and the program is approved for expansion, it will still take several months to implement body cameras in all districts.

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