Police get body and dash cameras

The integration of 400 dashboard and body cameras will lead to greater transparency and accountability on the force, Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said yesterday.

The implementation of the cameras came days after a man was killed by police in Pinewood Gardens.

“The purpose of the camera is, one, to assist us and the policymakers and decision-makers with accurate accounts,” Rolle said during a ceremony at police headquarters.

“…We always have questions surrounding activities, and so this is going to give us, hopefully, a third eye. And it should also help to mitigate against some of the complaints that are levied against the police as well.

“And also to help keep police officers accountable. We are all about accountability and I would like to know that our officers are accountable for their actions while out on patrol.”

Rolle said that as of yesterday, all officers on patrol on New Providence are expected to wear a camera while on duty.

According to Chief Superintendent Damian Robinson, there are enough cameras for the typical number of patrol cars out on a given day.

He said officers are not allowed to turn off their cameras, which record images nonstop. However, they must activate audio by pressing a button on the devices.

“Once the officer reports for duty, automatically, he puts the camera in standby mode.

“…If he wants to double press, he can record for a full eight hours. The battery life on these bodycams is 13 hours. If a police officer works overtime, it might take him into 12 hours.”

Robinson also said that as soon as the police car’s lights are turned on, the cameras are activated.

“Once we activate those flashing lights in the car, the sensor will pick up all of the body-worn cameras,” he said.

“…So, if you are on the scene and officers forget to activate their body-worn cams, if a supervisory team leader comes on the scene and clicks his light on, every officer who is equipped with a body cam, all of those cams will automatically activate.”

Robinson said officers cannot erase or manipulate the footage. He said footage from the cameras is automatically uploaded.

Asked how police will ensure that officers activate audio during confrontations, Rolle said there are established guidelines and consequences for not following them, but did not expand on the details.  

“There are policies that we have guiding the operation that the officers must follow,” he said.

“And one of them is once that camera turns on, he should not turn it off.

“We also have policies in place when we are stopping persons.”

Asked about how soon footage will be available to the public, Rolle said it depends on the situation.

“That depends on some legal requirements on if it is evidence and what type of evidence, whether or not we would want to release,” he said.

“And then we may have to get the order from the court in order to have it released.”

Rolle said he is currently working to obtain about 100 more cameras in the near future.

“We have sufficient as it stands right now to outfit all of our vehicles, and then we also have Grand Bahama,” he said.

“…We will expand that to the Family Islands as well.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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