IUPD to test body cameras

The IU Police Department will begin wearing body cameras S?aturday as part of a field test.

This field test will span IU-Bloomington, IU-Northwest and IU-Purdue University campuses. Cameras will be worn on the officer’s temple, neck or center chest.

Jerry Minger is the superintendent of public safety for IU and oversees the police chiefs of all IU campuses.

“We are going to try to use them in a variety of different environments,” Minger said. “That means day shift, second shift, night shift, mainly because of the different types of lighting conditions that there are and the different types of calls officers respond to.”

The field test is scheduled to run from Saturday through mid-April, Minger said.

The cameras will rotate among selected officers of all departments across campus. However, there is not enough equipment available for every officer to wear a camera during every shift, Minger said.

This field test is running on campus to answer a variety of questions concerning officers’ safety and health, Minger said.

“Does a product like that obscure your vision when you need to have more peripheral vision when this thing is on one side of your eyes?” Minger said. “Or does it become an added piece of hardware on the side of your head that might be a danger if you were involved in an altercation with a person? It might get driven into the side of your head.”

The body-worn cameras bring up privacy issues for officers and citizens, Minger said.

“Body-worn cameras, of course, rose in heightened awareness just for law enforcement because of community concerns about accountability and police,” Minger said. “Police also raised the question of accountability of people they came in contact with to verify things that were said, behaviors that were committed by a perpetrator and crime scenes that they walked into.”

The events in Ferguson, Mo. brought the body cameras to the attention of the committee responsible for the field test, Minger said.

The committee is made up of students, law enforcement representatives, faculty and privacy experts, according to an IU Public Safety and Institutional Assurance press release.

The recordings will be used to find out if the body cameras are beneficial in recording personal interactions with officers or will be beneficial for evidence during a ?prosecution.

The recordings will also test the ease of case reporting, making it easy for officers to look back and check their facts, ?Minger said.

Only authorized personnel will have access to the body camera footage. At the end of the field test, the recordings have a high chance of being completely deleted, ?Minger said.

The committee and those in charge of managing the departments will then decide if the body cameras are beneficial to the department and campus as a whole, ?Minger said.

The Bloomington Police Department ordered body-worn cameras in December 2013 and has been using them since April 2014.

“I suspect at some point in the future it will become much more refined and extremely likely that law enforcement officers will be wearing cameras like that,” ?Minger said.

“Just from the history of technology and the way we see the general public using those kind of devices in their personal life.”

IU Public Safety is planning focus groups and surveys to receive input about body cam experiences, according to the press release. Comments can be sent to ?IUPS@iu.edu.

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