SPD: Body cams to be automatically activated in certain emergencies

A state grant is funding improvements to reduce officers forgetting to turn on their cameras in emergencies.

Above: The SPD donned new gear last spring to record incidents and public interactions. Now they are getting additional funding to automatically trigger its use in certain situations. (images L-R contributed and cropped from Facebook)

The Southborough Police Department’s body cams are getting an upgrade thanks to a recent state grant. New devices will trigger the video cameras to be activated whenever officers turn on their cruiser lights or pull a gun from their holsters.

Here are the details from the announcement on Facebook:

Chief Ryan Newell is happy to announce that the Southborough Police Department was recently awarded $16,064 from the Law Enforcement Body-Worn Camera Program, which is run through the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. SPD was one of 52 local police departments to receive money from the $3.6 million in grant funds, awarded by the Healey-Driscoll Administration for the implementation or expansion of body-worn camera programs in communities across Massachusetts.

Our department applied for this grant funding to cover the cost of purchasing “signal” devices and corresponding battery packs to expand and improve upon our existing Body Worn Camera program. These new signal devices will be installed in two places- our officer’s firearm holsters and in the department cruisers. The device automatically activates the officer’s body worn camera when the officer turns on his/her cruiser lights or pulls their firearm out of their holster. Currently our officers have to manually press the BWC’s activation button when they need to record an incident. With these two signal devices- the activation occurs automatically when an officer may not have time to respond. This will cut down on missed recordings due to an officer forgetting to turn on their camera in an emergency, or being in a situation where it is not safe to reach up and press/hold the record button.

These grant funds will help to equip our officers with the most up-to-date BWC equipment and help to make the Southborough Police Department’s BWC program an even more successful one.

SPD officers began wearing the devices in April. At that time, I shared information from the department’s policy on when devices should and shouldn’t be used, how long footage is retained, how it is used, etc. You can read about that here

After I posted that story, the SPD shared on Facebook a link to news coverage of a Mass Supreme Judicial Court ruling that officers’ body cams “can be used to record statements of domestic violence victims and then presented in a court of law”.

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