Photo by Levi Pascher
Gloversville Police Officer Christopher Zink activates his Axon 2 body camera before responding to a call last week. The cameras can be attached to either the vest or pocket.
By LEVI PASCHER
Fulton County Express
GLOVERSVILLE — City police will now have an additional perspective when handling investigations in the community after the department officially outfitted officers with new body cameras last week.
The Gloversville Police Department launched the Body Worn Camera program on Wednesday, Feb. 1 to record the departments daily operations within the community.
Police Chief Marc Porter said he believes the body cameras will provide the city department added transparency, creditability and also provide his officers both training videos and investigative information directly from the field.
The department has started providing the cameras to uniformed personnel for use while on-duty. Porter said the cameras are intended to assist personnel in the performance of their duties by providing audio and video records of contacts.
The chief said all enforcement and investigative contacts, as well as all contacts specifically related to a call for service, will now be recorded to ensure the department collects the best evidence for criminal investigations.
Porter said the recordings will also protect department personnel from false accusations, be instrumental in resolving citizen complaints and promote transparency in the department.
“They will obviously be vital in use-of-force investigations but we believe they will also be an important tool in other investigations as well,” the chief said. “We will be able to look back at the footage during emergencies to see who was at the scene. We can also now provide real video for the training of our new officers and show them the appropriate techniques that should be used in the field or show them circumstances where something else could have been done.”
He said having video recordings of the entire interaction between officers and the public will provide an important objective view of the situation.
“We will now have the entire event and everything that led up to that moment,” Porter said. “It’s important to see the officers perspective of the situation and not only a 30-second clip from a witness.”
The chief said he believes having all interactions on video will encourage his officers to maintain professionalism and also provide more compliance from the community.
“We aren’t going to be the only ones recorded now,” he said. “I think this program will get more people to become compliant during investigations and also reduce our need to use force.”
The city police department started exploring the possibility of outfitting officers with body cameras under retired Police Chief Donald VanDeusen. The department ultimately decided to use previous capital funding to purchase the new body camera hardware and software to use a cloud based storage system.
The Axon 2 body cameras the department has purchased are about the size of a post-it note and can be attached to the middle of the officers tactical vest, on a pocket or another place of the uniform depending on the weather.
“They can provide a variety of different views,” Porter said. “We have a number of options depending on how the officers are outfitted during that particular day.”
Porter said he and VanDeusen previously visited Saratoga Springs to look into a similar camera program that was being implemented at that police department.
“We were impressed and decided to bring the same technology to our department,” he said. “I think the overall benefits of this will continue to come to fruition. I think we know some of the immediate benefits but over the long-term, I think we will see benefits we didn’t even think about today.”
Porter said the city has developed a policy regarding the cameras that keeps privacy concerns in mind.
“We won’t be using the camera in medical facilities or for sexually based offenses,” he said. “Privacy is important in certain cases and we understand that.”
The use of the new body cameras isn’t only being supported by the administration but also the police officers using them in the field.
City Police Officer Christopher Zink said he believes the program is going to be beneficial for the work he and his colleagues complete within the city on a daily basis.
“It provides an important second set of eyes,” he said. “I think that is going to improve our creditability and will also provide more information that we can reference when we are conducting our investigations in the field.”
The department is encouraging feedback from the community as it continues to become familiar with the new technology. Those interested can contact city police at (518) 773-4514 or visit us on Facebook.