The City of Delaware Police Department has started rolling out body-worn cameras after nearly two years of evaluating equipment and policies.
Interim Police Chief Adam Moore briefed the Delaware City Council on the cameras last week, stating the department’s new cameras will replace the audio recorders that officers previously wore to record their shifts.
Moore added plans to implement body-worn cameras have been in the works for years, and the department did extensive research before moving forward with the equipment.
“Acquiring body cameras was a significant budgetary item for us (more than $239,000), so we were determined to be very intentional in our acquisition process,” Moore said. “The project involved multiple stages: a test period for the equipment, vendor selection, purchase, and policy/procedure development. The conversation started in 2020 with an anticipated purchase in 2021. However, due to supply chain issues, it was not possible to take delivery until this year.”
Moore said the department purchased 50 individual cameras which will be issued to each uniformed officer with a few kept in reserve as spares. He added the cameras can record and sync with in-car dashboard cameras, and they are automatically turned on whenever the patrol vehicle’s overhead lights are activated. The cameras can also be activated manually when officers are away from their vehicles.
According to the department’s new policy, the cameras will be activated to record all “enforcement and investigative contacts,” including traffic stops as well as “any self-initiated activity when an officer would normally notify DelComm.” The policy states cameras should be activated during any contact that becomes adversarial “after the initial contact in a situation that would not otherwise require recording.”
According to Moore, the department’s body-worn camera policies are based on national best practices, and he added before former Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski retired, he vetted the department’s new camera policy with community partners such as Delaware City Schools, to resolve any issues.
“Overall, body cameras will not change the department’s practices,” Moore said. “There are new procedures specific to the cameras themselves. In reality, the cameras are an additional tool to document an incident.”
Moore said the recorded footage is uploaded into a cloud-based storage system via docking stations in the cruiser or at the police station. He added officers can view footage in their cruisers and use the playback feature to write their reports, but they are not able to edit any footage.
“The department selected a cloud storage solution that limits the required server space locally,” Moore said. “We also did a review of our records retention policy related to audio/video data to ensure items are kept and purged at appropriate intervals.”
Moore said the department is looking forward to using the cameras.
“We’re really rather excited to get started with this,” Moore told City Council last week. “I know several of the officers know we have these, and they are really eager to get moving forward with them.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.