The New Castle County Police Department’s Body-Worn Camera Pilot Program was deployed earlier this month (July 2015). Eight cameras are currently in use in the Patrol and Special Operations Divisions.
They were issued to officers in various stages of their careers.
These hands-free devices will record audio and video recordings of incidents. A sample video of a traffic stop from a body-worn camera can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRVRplGZ8i4
“We hope to have every officer equipped with a body-worn camera in the near future”, says Colonel E.M. Setting.
The New Castle County Police Department, with the support of County Executive Thomas P. Gordon, continues to be a front runner on technology. “I'd like to congratulate everyone, including Public Safety Director Joe Byrant, and Police Chief Elmer Setting.
"We love to be ahead of everything in technology, and this initiative is another example of that. We are happy to be the first major police agency to use this valuable equipment. Our police department already respects everyone it comes across, but it does not hurt to have this technology in place”, said Executive Gordon
County Police have started a pilot program with the deployment of body cameras to officers in various units within the department. As society has called for this device to become a part of policing, it also enables the police department to demonstrate transparency and openness in their interactions with the community. “We are hoping for greater community trust through this technology”, said Colonel E.M. Setting.
This technology can often help improve the high-quality public service expected of police officers. The Body-Worn Camera (BWC) can be used in various ways: to improve evidence collection, to strengthen officer performance and accountability, to enhance agency transparency, to document encounters between police and the public, and to investigate and resolve complaints and officer involved incidents. It is important that we recognize that BWCs will not always show every aspect of an event or everything that is being sensed or seen by the officer. BWC’s are an additional tool that can be utilized to better understand the actions of citizens and officers during encounters. One of the goals of this program is to use these cameras as much as possible but to still respect the privacy of those we serve.
The cost of this program and future deployment of more body-worn cameras for the department is still yet to be determined. This pilot program will help see what it takes to successfully equip, store, and maintain the camera and footage obtained. Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said, “Body cameras for police officers are a great tool, and the state’s end goal should be that every police officer in the state wears one. It is important to get to that statewide goal thoughtfully and with eyes wide open as to the cost and complications. Having a body camera system in place is not cheap, it involves costs far more than just purchasing the cameras, and we need to acknowledge and plan for that up front.”
New Castle County is thankful for the ongoing cooperation between the DE State Attorney General’s office, The Delaware Police Chief’s Council, and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.