Police Start Body-Worn Camera Trial

Police Start Body-Worn Camera Trial
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The Naperville Police Department will start its trial for body-worn camera technology Tuesday, August 31. The department will begin that night with two officers equipped with cameras assuming no issues arise in training, Interim Chief of Police Jason Arres said in a press conference Monday.

Body-Worn Cameras On Officers

The trial period will last between six and 10 weeks, with four to six officers equipped with cameras on the street at any given time. Officers from a variety of units will be testing body-worn cameras, ranging from patrol units to detectives.

Arres said once the department reaches full implementation, “every sworn officer, up to me, will be wearing a body-worn camera on the street.” Full implementation is not expected until fall of 2022, and will cost about $2 million over five years.

Considering Options

The department is using the trial period to decide between body-worn cameras made by Motorola, Axon, and Utility. They will use a staggered approach to introduce each camera, starting with Motorola.

“The patrol officers will wear [Motorola] for two weeks, and then it gets passed off to investigations for two weeks,” Arres explained.

Utility cameras will then be introduced to the same officers for two weeks, followed by the same process with Axon.

The department will work with officers to evaluate ease of use in the moment and in handling footage afterward, cloud storage and security, mounting options like clips or magnets, live footage connectivity, and other options.

“There’s going to be good things about every company,” Arres said. “It’s really building out what our folks in the field, behind the scenes, IT sees out of all those, building what we’re looking for and finding the best vendor based off of that.”

In-Car Cameras

The department’s in-car cameras are also in need of an upgrade, and will be replaced with the same brand of body-worn camera the department chooses, to take advantage of interconnectivity features.

Arres explained connected in-car and body-worn cameras can activate each other and would mean less juggling of equipment. “In a high stress incident, the less thinking our folks need to do about the technicalities, the better,” he said.

Training And Protocol

Arres said body-worn camera training only takes a few hours, and officers are familiar with the basics due to past experience with in-car cameras.

Regarding protocol for turning on cameras before incidents, “there’s not a lot of wiggle room,” Arres said. “If you’re going to deal with a police incident, you have to activate your camera.”

Arres noted the department had implementation of body-worn cameras included in last year’s capital budget, before the cameras were mandated in Illinois through HB3653.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.

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