Community weighs in on Buffalo Police body camera program

Questions linger over when BPD will turn cameras on and off

Mike Baggerman
December 05, 2018 - 9:19 pm

Buffalo residents weigh in on the police department's upcoming use of body cameras. December 5, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – Wednesday’s public forum at the Merriweather Library in the City of Buffalo highlighted the pros and cons of the Buffalo Police Department’s upcoming use of body-worn cameras.

The forum, which was attended by about two dozen members of the Buffalo community, provided a general overview of the body camera program. This included why the department will be using them, how they work, results of its pilot program, plus the forum highlighted issues with the current draft policy, including when the cameras are turned on, who gets to see the footage, and information about how the video is stored and deleted.

Buffalo Police are scheduled to begin the use of body-worn cameras in January. Police Advisory Board members said that the Buffalo Police Department will use Axon cameras, though this was not confirmed when WBEN reached out to a Buffalo Police spokesperson earlier this week.

Among the highlights of the meeting include the following from the advisory board:

Why Body-Worn Cameras?

  • To help hold police officers accountable
  • To promote policing best practices
  • To increase department transparency
  • Body-worn cameras footage is great evidence for complaints and prosecutions

How They Work

  • Cameras are activated by a push-button switch
  • They will record video starting 30 seconds before activation
  • Officers will upload videos to a cloud storage server, maintained by Axon

Pilot Program Results

  • By the end of the pilot program, most officers reached a fairly neutral overall opinion of the cameras.
  • The footage was helpful both for evidence in prosecution as well as internal affairs investigations
  • Overall, it seems like BPD officers and administrations liked the cameras and found them to be a good tool

BPD Body-Worn Camera Program

  • BPD will purchase the cameras and software from Axon (This was not confirmed by Buffalo Police)
  • BPD plans to begin rolling out the cameras in January 2019
  • BPD officers will go through 4-hour training sessions before using the cameras

Current Draft Policy & Issues:

Reaction from Community

Some members of community expressed their concern about Buffalo Police’s determination over viewing the body camera footage and when the cameras are turned on and off.

The Buffalo Police Advisory Board and the Buffalo Police Department will meet again later this month to try and bridge the gap in differences on the implementation of the policy.

 

IN DEPTH

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