More than 1,000 Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers will be equipped with body cameras. In a press conference Aug. 3, IMPD Chief Randal Taylor announced a partnership with Utility Inc. to get cameras installed in the uniforms of 1,100 IMPD officers.
“This represents a significant improvement,” Taylor said. “While officers will announce they are recording … residents should assume any interaction they have is being recorded.”
Jason Dombkowski, director of law enforcement relations at Utility Inc, said the cameras will be automatically triggered when it senses an officer is in a foot pursuit, when their weapon is drawn and when an officer approaches the location they were dispatched to. Furthermore, cameras will be activated if an officer is lying flat on the ground for 10 seconds or more.
Dombkowski said officers can turn the cameras on and off, but there is a 30-second buffer.
According to Taylor, video footage will be held for 180 days–abiding by a state mandate –and will be held longer if an investigation into an incident is necessary. Taylor said all of the 1,100 officers being equipped with a body camera will have one installed by November at the latest. There are 1,700 IMPD officers in total.
Samantha Douglas, a member of the Far East Side Community Council, said she’s “encouraged by what we have so far,” and called this a big step toward transparency she said is long overdue.
“This happened because of community engagement,” Douglas said. “This is not the time to stop holding leaders and institutions accountable, this is just the beginning. This is a small step in a very big journey.”
Vop Osili, president of the city-county council, echoed Douglas’ claim that this program was led by the community.
“We heard citizen’s perspectives on what needed to happen to improve relations,” Osili said, referencing calls for bias training for officers and body cameras. “The council appropriated funding for both, and now, two years later, fair and impartial police training and body cameras are a reality for IMPD.”
The first body camera trial in Indianapolis began five years ago. Mayor Joe Hogsett cited a decrease in cost and conversations with community members led to the installation of cameras taking place today.
“Today is a win for a better police-community relationship on both sides,” Hogsett said. “This is not a cure-all, and with last week’s release of IMPD’s use of force policy update, body cameras are only one part of a larger effort to improve trust between our community and law enforcement personnel.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.