Sandy Springs Police officers will begin field-testing body cameras the week of Nov. 28.
The department is testing body camera models from three different companies with the goal of selecting one and having all 70 patrol officers wearing them by late April, Deputy Chief Keith Zgonc told the City Council Nov. 15.
Zgonc said the department recently issued a request for proposals from body camera companies and received five responses. Four companies were selected for interviews with police and city officials earlier this month, and three of them made it to the field-testing round.
Councilmembers asked about some of the legal and financial open questions in the evolving field of police body cameras.
Privacy rights of victims, suspects and officers is a big topic. City Attorney Wendell Willard said legislation around that is still evolving, but there will be a city policy on when and how officers use the cameras. A draft policy is already in place, Zgonc said, and a formal one will be ready for review in January.
Another issue is storing the camera’s videos. Zgnoc said the department is leaning toward paying for cloud-based, off-site storage. The cameras are an expense and might need to be replaced every two years, he said.
A nationwide push for police to wear body cameras has been underway in the wake of controversial police killings of civilians, such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014. Police in Atlanta, Brookhaven and Dunwoody are already either wearing body cameras or are in the process of rolling them out.
The Sandy Springs department previously tested body cameras in 2010 as part of a corporate deal with TASER, but did not adopt them as regular equipment.
Oh, the cloud. Sandy Springs Private Company, the cloud is as vulnerable to hacking as everyone and everything else is. It would be foolish to think that SSPD doesn’t need their own backup in addition to “The Cloud”. You should be putting that in your budget.
The video has to be available to the public, news agency’s in a very timely manner or you risk looking like you’re protecting the police. If you’ve not seen and learned from that then… you have problems going in.
Lastly, remember that all these things you’re adding to the budget are long term additions requiring constant capital going forward.
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