INDIANAPOLIS – Police body cameras have been talked about for years in the United States, but the largest police department in the state still doesn’t have them.
“No. 1 -- we want them,” IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said. “That's a goal of mine."
The cameras have been rolled out at departments big and small across the country and proven to increase transparency and public trust with the police department, but IMPD is still waiting to roll out any body cameras.
"Nationally there's a trust issue,” Roach said. “People see the cameras as one of those things to create transparency and a little more trust within the agency."
The cameras would have proved a valuable role in recent controversial incidents, like when Aaron Bailey was shot and killed in June 2017. There was no video of the incident, but if there were body cameras, it could have shed light on key pieces of the incident and specifically what happened and when it happened.
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A recording from a body camera would have also proved useful in the past few weeks when a short cell phone video captured an IMPD officer carrying a shotgun around the Krave Event Center and spraying tear gas in people's faces.
In July 2017, Chief Roach sat down with Call 6’s Paris Lewbel about body cameras and said the city’s technology infrastructure wasn’t capable of handling body cameras.
But since that interview, the city’s technology services agency, ISA, has made significant upgrades to the city’s technological backbone and says it can handle body cameras with about a 90 days’ notice.
The chief says the department isn’t yet able to purchase body cameras. Things like new two-way radios and the new computer-aided dispatch system will online by the end of the year.
Roach says once those items are complete, his team can start to focus on body cameras and the policies around them. He said he wants to have policies in place on when officers are required to hit record – ensuring incidents don’t go unrecorded.
“I would like to take that onus away from the officer,” Roach said.
The department is considering technology that can start recording automatically, but that was dependent on a new computer-aided dispatch system that is being upgraded this year.
"We're not there yet,” Roach said. “But it's definitely a want, that we want is a police department, and the community wants it, and we want to get there.”
Roach says he hopes to start have discussions about it next year and the possibility of launch a pilot program, prior to a full rollout.
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