Green Bay Police starting to wear body cameras
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A small group of Green Bay Police officers is now starting to wear body cameras on patrol and when responding to calls.
They’re being trained on how to use them this week, and by mid-June, the department hopes to have every officer wearing them.
“Myself, and I know a lot of the other officers we work with, are very excited about this,” says Sgt. Mike Luberda.
He is among the first at the Green Bay Police Department to leave the station, suited up with a body camera, ready to record any interaction he has with the public.
Trainers from Axon, the company that makes the body cameras, Tasers and dash cams Green Bay Police purchased, are in Green Bay, showing sergeants how to activate the cameras.
Additional officers will be trained each week over the next two months.
“Cameras have been rather popular in the last couple of years, absolutely,” says Stephen Hadley, Axon professional services manager, who traveled to Green Bay to get the department up and running.
The department says officers should have cameras recording any time they have interaction with the public or when there’s a critical incident.
Luberda expects there to be a learning curve remembering that, but says he and other officers like knowing the cameras are watching.
“Being able to see and show people what actually happens in front of us, how we are treated sometimes, good and bad, is going to be very helpful, I think, just for us as our own security, our own training, our own level of awareness, but also for the public’s as well,” says Luberda.
While officers can manually turn the cameras on and off, they are set to automatically start recording when they draw a weapon or activate their lights and sirens.
And because the cameras are always buffering and on, they automatically record what happened in the 30 seconds prior to that, but only capturing video, not audio.
“We won’t have to be worried about turning it on when we have to worry about the problem that’s unfolding in front of us,” Luberda says.
“We’ve got quite a few example videos where the officer has to take action and then has to activate their camera, so having that 30 seconds captured most, if not all, of the important stuff that occurred,” says Hadley
Videos are like DNA or fingerprints. If tagged as evidence, they’re kept seven years, or a lifetime for homicide cases, and saved to multiple secure servers around the country to prevent losing them.
Police say any video captured automatically uploads to the cloud when an officer brings the camera back to headquarters and places it on the charging station.
The new $2.7 million system, which includes a $700,000 donation from the Green Bay Packers, also provides equipment that allows the public to submit video to police.
“Any surveillance video -- from a Ring doorbell for instance, or as we see when there’s an incident going on, a lot of people are standing around and we see them videotaping with their cell phones -- we can give them a link right away, and they can send it to us,” explains Captain Ben Allen, who has helped spearhead this project.
“When they do have questions about why did this happen? Why did that happen? How did that happen? This is just one more tool for the public to see what was in front of us at the time and we had to make a split second decision under immense pressure,” says Luberda.
Police say if people want to see videos, they will be able to make a request for them, similar to requesting a police report, but witnesses, victims and other sensitive information would likely first be blurred out.
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