As ThisWeekinWorcester.com reported, the body camera pilot program launched on May 1. Twenty WPD officers — 16 from the Operations Division, two from Traffic, and two from the Neighborhood Response team — volunteered to wear the cameras over a six-month period.
According to WPD Chief Steve Sargent, due its complex and comprehensive nature, the WPD and City worked collaboratively to determine best practices over the department’s six month body camera pilot program.
In a communication to City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Chief Sargent said that the department followed the example of the Providence Police Dept. and how that department implemented the program.
Following their visit to Providence, and by working with the City Manager’s Office, the Law Department, the New England Police Benevolent Association 911 and International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 504 and the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office, the WPD created an extensive policies and procedures for the pilot program.
In general, the WPD states that the body-worn cameras are effective tools in capturing video and audio evidence in criminal investigations, internal investigations and officer training. The cameras are intended to record anything that an officer could have potentially seen or heard.
Each incident that involves an officer with a camera “should be based on the totality of the circumstances when reviewing the video/audio for retraining or disciplinary purposes.”
The WPD policy on body-worn cameras is to create guidelines to ensure the cameras are used correctly and appropriately, and that the video and data is recorded and stored in the proper way during the six months of the pilot program.
In this communication, the WPD stresses the importance of respecting the privacy of people in Worcester and to uphold professionalism within the department.
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