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Indiana Police Chief: Body Cams a ‘Good Tool,’ Nearly 1 Year In

New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey said his agency’s body camera deployment has “made our community better.” Police officers at the city department have been using body cams since the summer of 2023.

A police or law enforcement vehicle responds, lights flashing, to a nighttime emergency
(TNS) — New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey said the police department’s use of body cameras has “made our community better.”

Officers with the New Albany Police Department have been using the body-worn cameras since last summer.

“The fundamental here at New Albany Police is to provide a quality service for our community,” Bailey said. “We live in a world of technology where technology is helping us in actually fulfilling that obligation or that desire to provide the quality service. These cameras have enhanced our ability to provide that service.”

The New Albany City Council approved initial funding for the body cams in late 2022, and the department had all the equipment available by last May. All police officers were using the cameras by the end of July, according to Bailey.

The Axon body cam program costs about $150,000 a year.

The technology has been a “good tool” in multiple aspects, Bailey said. In addition to offering transparency, the cameras also assist with de-escalation.

“Oftentimes when somebody in the field who wasn’t as compliant as they should have been saw that we had a body-worn camera, they decided that they would come and do what we were asking them to do,” he said.

The cameras help the department collect evidence and recall “everything that actually happened on a particular case,” Bailey said.

“To store the images that we recover, it’s made our officers’ jobs so much easier at streamlining things,” he said.

The records are also used for training to determine “what wasn’t done so well [and] what can we do better,” Bailey said.

The cameras automatically turn on if an officer draws a taser or firearm.

“And then if you’re in close proximity to an officer who draws a taser or a firearm, your body camera will turn on if you are in that general vicinity,” Bailey said.

The department’s policies require officers to come to work equipped with their body cams, which must be charged and attached to their uniform. The cameras must be activated when officers are performing official duties, according to Bailey.

“If you’re on a traffic stop or if you’re interacting with a citizen for a call, the body cameras are to be on during those circumstances,” he said.

The cameras are helpful during “heightened situations,” but they are also useful in daily operations.

“In fact, they’re more helpful with our day-to-day operations so that we can appropriately document the things that we've encountered throughout the course of a shift,” Bailey said.

NAPD uses docking stations to charge and upload the data. Officers can use the body cams for their personal reporting or training, but once it’s recorded, they cannot alter the footage.

“The image is the image, and it’s not altered,” Bailey said. “The body camera’s always going to be objective.”

The equipment offers “precision that’s coupled with trust,” he said.

“Sometimes in our world things move so fast, that to recall every single detail can be difficult,” Bailey said. “So these body cameras have been great for if somebody says, I’m not really sure, did she say this? Did she say that? You can roll the camera back and listen to what was said.”

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