ACT police to wear body cameras linked to their tasers and firearms

Lachlan Roberts 19 March 2019 28

More than 480 kits will be rolled out across ACT Policing over the next year. Photo and video: George Tsotsos.

For the first time in the ACT, starting from this week police officers will wear body cameras that will be activated as soon as an officer pulls their firearm or taser gun.

More than 480 kits will be rolled out across ACT Policing in the next six months, as a result of a $2.7 million injection of ACT Government funding over four years, with general duty police, traffic members and criminal investigation officers to use the kits.

Whenever a taser or firearm is drawn from its holster, all body-worn cameras in close proximity are activated, recording multiple views of the incident.

Previously, tasers did have a video and audio capability but the new kit will have separate body-worn cameras.

More than making day-to-day work safer for officers, Deputy Chief Police Officer Michael Chew said the equipment will lead to quicker compliance by offenders and ultimately provides unbiased, factual information about an incident.

Deputy Chief Police Officer Chew stressed that the cameras would only be in use when an officer draws his/her weapon, but said it is ACT Policing’s intention at a stage in the future to open it up to broader use of the cameras.

“These camera systems are worn separately, on the officers’ uniform and provide significantly enhanced recording and functionality,” Deputy Chief Police Officer Chew said.

“The clear benefits will be a video recording of actions that police have within the community throughout normal duties and it will be very difficult to dispute the events that have occurred.”

Deputy Chief Police Officer Chew said other benefits included spending less time with written statements, the quality of evidence presented in court, and providing better protection for police against excessive use of force claims.

ACT Policing’s 2017-18 annual report revealed a 342 per cent increase in use of force reports in relation to tasers compared to the year before, with 199 reports – up from 45 – in 2017-18. The report suggested the increase in taser use of force reports could be attributed to more police officers being issued the weapons.

Deputy Chief Police Officer Chew said increasing body cameras and tasers should not be a concern to the public.

“The use of a taser is one of our less-than-lethal-force of options, along with our OC spray, our batons and our handcuffs,” he said.

“These kits are more about protection of officers in their interactions and to allow transparency in the community to see our interactions.”

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28 Responses to ACT police to wear body cameras linked to their tasers and firearms
M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 6:13 pm 19 Mar 19

I'm chuckling at some of the comments here urging every police action to be recorded, citing potential police misbehaviour. Here's a suggestion: next time you get stopped for a traffic offence, jump out of your cap with your IPhone and tell the officer loudly you're recording every interaction (you're entitled to do so). It may well be that he was originally thinking of giving you a friendly warning about your faulty brake light or to remind you informally that you failed to indicate. Instead you'll find yourself with a traffic infringement notice (or notices), loss of points, and quite possibly a defected car.

    Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 6:21 pm 19 Mar 19

    In recent years. I’ve filmed all my encounters with police, Martin. In my experience, it’s an excellent method to ensure that officers remain polite and professional (this is in stark contrast to behaviour I’ve witnessed from police when my camera has not been running).

    M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 6:22 pm 19 Mar 19

    Matt Donnelly Sorry, Matt, but I find that hard to believe.

    Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 6:37 pm 19 Mar 19

    Don’t feel sorry, Martin. You’re entitled to be sceptical.

    I invite you to visit youtube channels like Copwatch, PINAC, Crimebodge, and the myriad of First Amendment auditors, to see for yourself how filming interactions with police aids in accountability and public safety.

    Geoff Withers Geoff Withers 7:24 pm 19 Mar 19

    Because the police have never been involved with corruption or perverting the course of justice. These cameras are there to protect the police not the public

Dan Smith Dan Smith 5:43 pm 19 Mar 19

Respond to a call out they should be activated. No point seeing what happens after the other 3 warnings or instructions have been given.

Sure not on all the time but as soon as you are engaged turn them on. It protects the force from false claims. And protects the innocent from corruption.

Tasha Krahe Tasha Krahe 12:20 pm 19 Mar 19

Cameras should be on, when ever the policeman speaks

    Shane Bennett Shane Bennett 5:36 pm 19 Mar 19

    Tasha Krahe why? Sitting in the patrol car "Geez, I've got an itchy arse today" I'm sure that's critical information.

    Nick Stone Nick Stone 5:40 pm 19 Mar 19

    Tasha Krahe

    So when a police officer is greeted by you children out at the shops, you want it recorded? When someone approaches a police officer for directions, you want it recorded? Some poor victim in a crash is being comforted by police and it should be recorded? I could go one but it's not necessary to have it on.

    Tasha Krahe Tasha Krahe 7:19 pm 19 Mar 19

    Those ones can be deleted, I am sure. But I think for everyone's peace of mind, recording everything is good. You never know when a simple act can escalate quickly.

    Shane Bennett Shane Bennett 6:02 am 22 Mar 19

    You would have to create an entire new department dedicated to the management of this audio. What a waste.

Matthew Dickson Matthew Dickson 11:14 am 19 Mar 19

They should be activated for any public engagement

    M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 12:41 pm 19 Mar 19

    That is just ridiculous. Going to the police station to report a minor accident and have your conversation filmed and recorded - seriously? Asking for directions at the same foyer?

    James Grayson James Grayson 12:42 pm 19 Mar 19

    Doesnt that just keep everyone safe?

    Gareth Rowlands Gareth Rowlands 12:48 pm 19 Mar 19

    That's never going to happen and shouldn't.

    Matthew Dickson Matthew Dickson 1:24 pm 19 Mar 19

    Martin Leonard aren’t all interactions at the police station recorded? They have enough CCTV. But if you want any interaction with a cops word against yours because it wasn’t documented that’s fine. I was thinking more along the lines of activating for say traffic stops, call outs, or when asked by the public and obtain a copy if required under freedom of information

    Tasha Krahe Tasha Krahe 2:35 pm 19 Mar 19

    Matthew Dickson I agree. Some police can be very aggressive and intimidating when speaking to you. Proof would be nice

    Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 2:46 pm 19 Mar 19

    Why rely on the police to record your interactions with them?

    We are well within our rights to film police going about their duties in public, and I recommend doing so for our safety and their accountability.

    David Murn David Murn 3:02 pm 19 Mar 19

    Martin, as Matthew has already pointed out, public areas of a police station already DO have audio and video recording.

    Matthew Dickson Matthew Dickson 3:23 pm 19 Mar 19

    Matt Donnelly of course but we are also allowed to obtain all footage recorded by the officers for our use. FOI. It’s all about COA on the part of everyone. Also they should be recording for the reason you said safety and accountability

    Nate Mooré Nate Mooré 4:57 pm 19 Mar 19

    Matthew Dickson how much do you think that'll cost the government to catalogue, archive and administer? You'll be happy to pay for it, as a taxpayer? I won't...

    Matthew Dickson Matthew Dickson 5:07 pm 19 Mar 19

    Nathan Cooper ya I know it’ll never happen

    Nick Stone Nick Stone 5:33 pm 19 Mar 19

    Matthew Dickson

    You may request footage, may! Will you get the footage, that's a completely separate issue.

    Nick Stone Nick Stone 5:36 pm 19 Mar 19

    Matthew Dickson

    For any public engagement? No. A police officer goes out to grab their lunch, a coffee, this is engaging the public and no need to be recording it.

    Matthew Dickson Matthew Dickson 5:41 pm 19 Mar 19

    Nick Stone that’s obviously not required

    M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 6:08 pm 19 Mar 19

    Matthew Dickson No all interactions at police stations are *not* recorded.

    M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 6:08 pm 19 Mar 19

    David Murn No they do not.

    Matthew Dickson Matthew Dickson 6:11 pm 19 Mar 19

    in the end everything we say won’t change anything they have a plan and that’ll be that until something happens

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