College Place Police implement body cameras for the sake of transparency

College Place
Images courtesy of the College Place Police Department

COLLEGE PLACE, Wash. — A release from the College Place Police Department confirms that officers from the station will now wear body cameras to record all interactions with the public and ensure transparency when it comes to their affairs.

 

The College Place police ordered 15 of the Axon Body 3 cameras to be worn by police officers while on active duty. These cameras are meant to capture the interactions between local law enforcement officers and the constituents they serve.

Body cameras are a useful tool when implemented correctly. Since police officers are meant to protect the communities they serve, they need to be held accountable. Equipping each College Place police officer with a body camera provides an added layer of protection for officers wrongly accused of misconduct and citizens who may be targetted by the police.

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Police Chief Troy Tomaras took an optimistic approach to the implementation of body cameras at his station. While many officers resist the idea of body cameras, feeling it’s invasive to the critical nature of their work, Chief Tomaras welcomes the implementation of body cameras as a way to hold everyone that officers come into contact with, including each other, accountable.

“Body cameras provide a great sense of transparency,” Police Chief Troy Tomaras said. “Law enforcement has been pretty beat-up over the last year for social injustice concerns… I think it’s just good that we are making every effort to be transparent.

“Typically, I think law enforcement has been bad communicators, and that’s one of the reasons why we have the problems we have,” Tomaras said. “And we’re working very hard to be better communicators and to be more transparent. This is just another way to do that.”

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According to Officer D. Schmick from the College Place Police Department, videos are uploaded to Axon’s secure cloud network and are stored for 90 days. Some video recordings will be held on that platform for longer than others based on state regulations. The CPPD’s records department has been trained to use Axon software to access the database of police footage if necessary, but public records requests can only be made in scenarios when there’s legal reasoning behind it.

Through RCW 10.109.020 from the Washington Legislature, all local law enforcement in the state was advised to adopt body cameras as of  June 9, 2016. However, the resources needed to adopt this kind of initiative aren’t available in every county and takes some police departments longer than others.

According to the release, all College Place officers were in agreement about the implementation of body cameras, drawing unanimous approval. Officers will be required to inform suspects and victims that they’re being recorded before interactions.

The addition of body cameras was only a segment of the technological upgrade taking place in College Place. Officers from the region are now equipped with the new Axon Taser 7 as well as redaction software and cloud server storage for the cameras. The overall cost of this equipment was $202,354.02, according to the release.

That’s a small price to pay to make a safer community for all.

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