Avondale jumps on body camera bandwagon

In+December+2015%2C+the+Decatur+Police+Department+bought+second+generation+cameras.+The+body+cameras+mount+inside+a+vest+worn+over+the+uniform+shirt.+The+phones%E2%80%99+cameras+record+through+a+port+in+the+vest.+

In December 2015, the Decatur Police Department bought second generation cameras. The body cameras mount inside a vest worn over the uniform shirt. The phones’ cameras record through a port in the vest.

Mayah Kirson

The Avondale Estates City Council approved the purchase of body cameras for the police department this March. The city bought 13 cameras and equipment for nearly $17 thousand according to Decaturish. 

Body cameras on police officers reduce citizen complaints by nearly 90% according to a study published by the Bureau of Justice Assistance

Avondale Estates is one of many local police departments to buy body cameras. The DeKalb County Police Department purchased the technology, but a lawsuit  stopped roll out. The City of Decatur Police Department on the other hand uses this technology on a daily basis.

Sergeant Kim Parks displays a body camera next to her cruiser at the Decatur Police Department. The device syncs with her police car to automatically turn on when the blue lights flash and the door opens. Smartphone technology also offers auto rotation to identify when an officer goes down.
Sergeant Kim Parks displays a body camera next to her cruiser at the Decatur Police Department. The device syncs with her police car to automatically turn on when the blue lights flash and the door opens. Smartphone technology also offers auto rotation to identify when an officer goes down.

After 2-3 years of research the Avondale Estates force partnered with Axon, a branch of Taser International. The force chose the the Axon Body 2, a body camera that can connect to Wi-Fi and cloud to store HD footage as evidence.

Corporal Paul Conroy, an officer at the Avondale Estates Police Department for 12 years, notes leaps in body camera technology are significant and appreciated.

“Have you ever had a bunch of tapes at home like VHS tapes?” He said. “There’s literally walls of them. The direct technology makes it a little easier for us to store and keep up with evidence.”

According to Conroy, police departments have to keep evidence anywhere from five years to eternity to comply with Georgia law. Innovations in body cameras not only protect footage, but officers and community members.

The Decatur Police Department implemented body cameras in 2010, but upgraded to smartphone technology six months ago.

Deputy Chief Keith Lee at the Decatur Police Department not only sees convenience, but an improvement in officers’ work.

“When officers know that they’re being recorded their behavior is going to be strictly professional, but the most important part is it reassures the community that the department is transparent,” he said.

Chief of Police Gary Broden at the Avondale Estates Police Department explained being open in a public agency is vital to build trust with the community. He said the presence of body cameras doesn’t simply keep officers in check.

“When people know they’re being recorded, not just the officers but the people we come in contact with, everyone seems to act more polite,” he said.

Though smaller more mobile cameras raise questions of invasion of privacy, Lee marvels at the progress of body camera technology.

“I look at the technology that’s come into place since I was a young rookie patrol officer and it amazes me,” he said. “I think this is just a natural progression.”