At the beginning of 2015, Indianapolis Metro Police conducted a pilot study of the use of body cameras among patrol officers in the Northwest sector of the city. While there were several questions that remain unanswered for the ACLU of Indiana and the local Fraternal Order of Police regarding the rules and regulations surrounding their use, IMPD officials say the pilot was simply to see if the department could practically see the use and function of the cameras in day-to-day operations. Decisions on whether they would seek implementing a body camera program would come later.
After a successful test run using the cameras during traffic stops in January and February, IMPD implemented a phase two of the pilot program. This time the body cameras were given to more officers and used beyond just traffic stops.
“Officers were instructed to use the cameras in all citizen encounters,” says Lieutenant Mark Wood who supervised the pilot program. “That doesn’t mean they turned the cameras on when someone approaches and asks for directions. But the cameras were turned on for all encounters related to their role as a police officer.”
And there is a lot of video footage as a result.
Phase two also included cameras from different companies so officers got to experience a range in types of cameras and how they are used. The pilot program ended this week for two vendors. The third vendor will complete their trial next week. Lt. Wood says overall it was a good learning experience and he was proud at how officers accepted the new technology.
Officers still plan to gather in the next few weeks and assess the overall value of using body cameras within the ranks of IMPD. And regardless of what the city’s law enforcement agency recommends, Lt. Wood says the reality of the program will ultimately boil down to money and if the city believes a body camera program is a worthwhile investment.