PIEDMONT TRIAD, N.C. — As the importance of body cameras become more prevalent in holding law enforcement and the public accountable for our actions, the system and setup of each departments body cameras have begun to differ.
This is to best fit the need and the financial limitations of each agency.
What is consistent is that the body cameras are placed on the chest, shoulder or on the rim of the deputy or officer’s glasses. Whether automatically or manually turned on, it then is able to capture visuals and audio of the encounter.
That video and audio is then uploaded into a data system and saved permanently or for a period of days – depending on the situation and evidentiary value of it – and can be accessed by authorities for review.
Where things different for the departments is the type or brand of body camera they issue, how and where their video data is uploaded, and how their body cameras are activated.
High Point Police Department
The department is currently supplying itself with more than 130 body cameras, after a more than $1.8 million grant approval by the city.
Interim Police Chief Travis Stroud explained that it could take several years before all of the uniformed/patrol officers are equipped with body cameras.
The department is also working to issue new dash cameras that are synched with the body cameras.
The body cameras are through a company called Watch Guard and are strapped to an officer’s chest.
HPPD explains that these automatically record a “hard-style” copy of the encounter when their patrol lights activate. This can also be triggered by the officer’s speed or when their dash camera is activated.
The video data is uploaded to a server once the officer returns to the police department or when their cameras are mounted to be charged.
The video will be stored in the system for 30 days until it is purged from the system. However, if the video is labeled as having evidentiary value, it will be saved indefinitely.
Greensboro Police Department
The department is staffed with 705 cameras, 230 of which are vehicle mounts while the other 475 are body camera mounts.
The department is partnered with a company called Axon.
The cameras are assigned to every patrol officer and everyone in the agency that holds the rank of sergeant, or below.
The cameras are activated manually by the officer, when the officer’s patrol lights are activated or, for the handful of Tasers on force, when a Taser is deployed.
That video and audio is then transferred back to the system’s video server once the officer returns tot their vehicle or when they plug their camera unit in to charge.
The cameras have a Record After the Fact setup, meaning once the officer hits “record” on their camera, it will also include the 30 seconds of footage prior to the button being pressed.
Guilford County Sheriff’s Office
The sheriff’s office has 398 body worn cameras, issued to sworn officers and detention officers.
The video and audio is automatically uploaded when the deputy puts the camera in its charging dock or if the deputy manually uploads it once they return to their patrol units.
These have a Record After the Fact function.
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office
The sheriff’s office has deputies wearing two body cameras, as well as dash cameras in their patrol vehicles.
The body cameras are worn on the front chest, as well as on the shoulder, or frame of the deputies glasses.
These cameras are turned on manually by the deputy when the patrol lights are activated or when a deputy’s Taser is deployed at a situation. If other deputies arrive at a scene where another deputy has their cameras activated by a Taser or lights, then those deputies body cameras will also activate.
The body camera footage is uploaded through the deputy’s vehicle returning to the station, when the deputy charges their camera or if the deputy uploads it manually to the office’s server.
Asheboro Police Department
The department has 50 body cameras that are issued to all uniformed police officers working their normal patrols, as well as all officers working off-duty assignments.
These cameras have a record button, but also have a Record After the Fact function, which gives the department’s system administrator, at the direction of the chief of police, the ability to retrieve video even if the officer did not manually start the camera.
That video is also transferred to their server once the cameras are plugged into a charging port.
Burlington Police Department
The department has more than 100 body cameras.
Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office
The sheriff’s office has 78 body cameras, 66 of which have been issued out to deputies in the field. The remaining 12 are used as spares and will be issued to the open positions the department has.
The cameras are used by patrol, civil, detective and detention division officers.
The cameras are worn on their chest, and are turned on manually. However, once activated, they record the prior 30 seconds before they were activated.
That footage is then downloaded automatically into the system’s servers.
Randolph County Sheriff’s Office
The department has 20 body cameras with 10 deputies wearing them per shift while the other 10 cameras are charging and downloading images from the previous shift.
The office is also in the process of purchasing 35 additional cameras to be worn by deputies.
These are worn on the deputies chest and will be turned on manually by the deputy.
These will also upload information to the office’s servers automatically.
Davidson County Sheriff’s Office
The department is currently testing out two body cameras.
Alamance County Sheriff’s Office
The sheriff’s office does not currently have any body cameras.
We are told this has come down to an issue of cost.
There have been conversations, but none that have resulted in the funds being approved.
Lexington Police Department
The department uses 60 Watch Guard body cameras, which are required to be worn by all front-line officers. Some cameras are turned on manually and some turn on automatically. The department is also in the process of replacing the remaining manual cameras with automatic cameras. The manual cameras transfer the video and audio captured when they are docked into a transfer station. The automatic cameras automatically upload via Wi-Fi to the server.