I am very pleased to announce that, as of this afternoon, all sworn personnel of the Tyrone Police Department are equipped with body worn cameras (BWCs). We have adopted this tool as part of our commitment to professionalism and transparency and look forward to the benefits they will provide us in these areas.
In the wake of several recent high-profile police use of force incidents, law enforcement as a whole is now under a great deal of scrutiny - some of it warranted, but much of it the result of misinformation - and agencies across the nation are looking for ways to protect their officers from false claims. These important tools are a good answer to that problem and will allow us to ensure that every police-public encounter is carried out professionally and according to policy.
The TPD is fortunate in that our officers are involved in only a few use of force incidents per year on average and they generate very few complaints from the public. That being said, we have received a couple of blatantly false complaints recently (proven by dash cam video) and look forward to the extended video coverage that the BWCs will provide in cases where dashcam use is not possible or feasible. As a quality control measure, shift supervisors will be required to view a minimum of three (3) videos from each of the officers on their shift each month. We already do this with dashcam video and believe that it has greatly enhanced the quality of our encounters with the public.
Our BWC system includes a 30 terabyte internal server that will hold up to 25,000 hours of video. According to the manufacturer, this represents approximately 15 years worth of video for an agency of our size. At this time, all video will be flagged to be maintained for a minimum of five (5) years. That will change once HB 976 becomes law (http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20152016/HB/976). At that time, we will adjust our policy to reflect the requirements of this legislation under OCGA 50-18-96.
Privacy has been, understandably, a big concern for the public when it comes to police use of BWCs. Our law makers addressed that concern last year with the passage of a bill that amended OCGA 50-18-72. Under this legislation, officers are allowed to record their encounters with citizens regardless of the location, but an agency is not required to release said videos to the general public under open records laws. This code section lists the parties to whom the recordings must be released and they only include a very limited group to include those who are actually on the recording. For those videos that must be released, we have the ability to redact certain elements of the videos when allowed by law.
Some Key Elements of our BWC Program: