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How body cameras actually work

DeKALB – At least two police agencies in DeKalb County will begin equipping their officers with body cameras in 2020. The devices clip on to an officer’s chest and capture video and audio while the officer is patrolling.

So how exactly do the cameras record police officers and those they approach during their day, and what do body cameras bring to the table?

DeKalb police Cmdr. Craig Woodruff explained using an Axon camera, one of the models the DeKalb department will be testing in their six-month trial to determine which type best suits its patrol officers.

“Once they’re clicked on, they record all the time,” Woodruff said. “However, it’s not saving that recording past say, 90 seconds.”

The cameras come with a button right in the middle that officers need to press in order for the recording to begin saving, which will either be located on-site at the DeKalb Police Department, 700 W. Lincoln Highway, or in a cloud server depending on which model is chosen.

The purpose of the save button is to help weed out unnecessary downtime data that could take up storage space in what is expected to be a massive amount of data needing to be stored, saved for the required statute of limitations time, or redacted and passed on to the court system or for Freedom of Information Act requests.

That doesn’t necessarily mean encounters with police will not be saved, however, Woodruff said.

When the officer hits the button the recording will begin to save, including the previous two minutes before the button being pressed just in case, Woodruff said.

A body camera’s field of vision depends on the model, Woodruff said and, unlike the squad car cameras, doesn’t include much peripheral vision beyond a few feet in either direction.

He said sometimes department’s can get too caught up in the bells and whistles of the model, such as night vision. When it comes to reviewing recorded footage, the goal is to ensure the video reflects most accurately what the officer and persons involved can see and hear.

“It’s the best we can do,” he said. “It’s not perfect, it never will be. People get this sense that this thing will solve all the world’s problems. It really doesn’t. it’s just another tool that’s out there. But combined with the squad cameras, I think that’s the best you can do.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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