IMPD considers body cameras; samples technology

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is kicking off a body camera trial program that’s free to the city—for now.

This time in 2015, IMPD ended a body camera trial and announced it would not officially adopt a body camera program due to cost. Prices have gone down since, and now the city is seriously considering the investment.

We asked what has taken so long.

“I’d like to think we took a responsible route," said IMPD Commander Michael Wolley. "We allowed the technology to kind of weigh itself out."

For 45 days, the department is testing out three different types of body cameras: Axon, Utility, and the Motorola.

Commander Wolley is aware of the trends happening nationally with body cameras.

“Lower incidents of officers being assaulted, lower incidents of complaints from citizens, I think it’s a great opportunity for the officers to have uninterrupted video showing from their perspective,” said Wolley.

His north district is trying out the Axon technology, which is the same type of body camera the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department has been using.

“We’ve had pretty good luck with it," said LMPDt Lt. James Cirillo. "It’s done a pretty good job of capturing a lot of incidents.”

IMPD Patrolman Jack Straub is thinking of how this program can help him become a better officer.

“The ability to go back and review the footage after the fact allows you to kind of 'Monday morning quarterback' yourself and improve on those things,” said Straub.

He is also looking forward to ending some potential “he-said-she-said” situations.

“Somebody makes a complaint or says that we said something or did something where we know it’s not true, our supervisor knows it’s not true, but the fact that they are making that claim anyway requires some sort of investigation into the matter,” said Straub.

Many departments are reporting better conviction rates due to body cameras because they are difficult to dispute in court. Most defendants plead guilty if their crime was caught on a body cam. This saves hours of overtime pay for officers who would otherwise have to testify in court. Straub is looking forward to getting the whole incident on camera. Most people only capture the aftermath on their cell phones.

“We’re already being recorded," said Straub. "So really, the body camera is a recording of our vision, not necessarily what the public is seeing.”

Though the cost of body cams have gone down over time, IMPD anticipates a price tag of $2 to $3 million per year.

“I think the biggest concern is the storage," said Wolley. "I don’t think that has fluctuated at all, and with us being a large department, there is going to be a significant amount of storage.”

It’s a big investment, and they’ll continue taking time to make it.

“There are a lot of agencies that may have rushed into it, but we took our time and made sure that we are doing things right,” said Wolley.

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