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Body-Worn Camera Program
The Brentwood Police Department has developed a culture of high-level customer service, fair and impartial policing, and use of force only when necessary. The officers’ actions are a matter of public record, and the department welcomes the opportunity for increased transparency through the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs).
In early 2018, the Brentwood Police Department partnered with the Regional Justice Information Services (REJIS) and the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to begin our BWC program. Spearheading the program in Fall 2017, REJIS was awarded $350,000 in grant funding for the purchase of BWCs for participating police agencies within St. Louis County. This BJA grant award was one of the first to take a regional approach to BWC acquisition, rather than each agency filing for federal funds individually.
The result of this program was the purchase and future deployment of 247 BWCs for seven participating St. Louis County Municipal Police Departments: Brentwood, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Clayton, Moline Acres, Richmond Heights, Town & Country, and University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) PD.
Brentwood Police Department Body-Worn Camera Policy
Community involvement is critical to any successful BWC program. The Brentwood Police Department has developed a thorough policy regarding the use of BWCs.
Brentwood Police Department General Order: Digital Body Camera Recording Equipment
Brentwood Police Department’s BWC project timeline:
Delivery of BWC equipment: April 2020
Server Configuration and Testing: May 2020
Training and Issuing of BWCs to Officers: June and July 2020
BWC Program Fully Operational: July 2, 2020
Why Body Cameras?
Body-worn cameras (BWCs) have become an important law enforcement tool. The Brentwood Police Department has adopted the use of body camera video/audio recording equipment to accomplish the following objectives:
- Enhance the safety of citizens and officers
- Enhance transparency, accountability and trust
- Increase the department’s ability to review probable cause for arrests, arrest procedures, officer and suspect interaction, officer and citizen interaction, and training needs.
- Make prosecutions more efficient and effective
Limitations of BWC Footage
While body-worn camera footage can be a useful tool and can provide a unique perspective on police encounters, there are limitations, including:
- The camera cannot capture what happened outside of the camera’s view or potentially the causation for actions shown, depending on the camera’s perspective and breadth of view. How the camera is mounted and the angle at which the camera is mounted affect the perception of what is seen (officer, suspect, witness, victim perspectives).
- The camera cannot record some important danger cues (such as smells, tensing of muscles, increased pulse rate, physical resistance).
- The night vision component of the camera can see far better than the human eye.
- Camera speed differs from the speed of life.
- An officer’s body may unintentionally block the view of the camera.