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Training for Transparency

Arizona State University Police Department begins using body cameras

A photograph of the body camera ASU Police will be wearing.

The body camera, made by the company Taser, that ASU Police are now wearing

November 05, 2015

Officers in the Arizona State University Police Department take seriously their charge to protect and serve the community, which is why they have begun wearing body cameras in the line of duty.  

“We’re trying to increase transparency and improve on legitimacy and procedural justice,” said Chief Michael Thompson.

“This helps build trust in the community because when an issue comes up, it will have been documented on camera.”

The new system is an overall technology upgrade because officers also received department-issued smartphones with the cameras. The devices work in tandem.

The cameras, which attach to the officer’s shirts or armored vests, will record audio and video at the touch of a button. Using an application on the smartphones, the officers can add data— such as case numbers — to the videos and then encrypt and upload the images to a cloud-based site, where they are stored until needed for a potential court case.

The cameras, made by the Scottsdale-based TASER company, have a 130-degree view, will adjust to dark conditions and can operate in bad weather. Each one weighs 3.5 ounces and can store nine-and-a-half hours of video.

Officers will use the phones to take photos and record interviews — an improvement over the old digital recorders.

“President Obama came up with 21st century policing initiatives and one of those is to incorporate technology into improving transparency, and we are making sure we’re in line with those guidelines,” Thompson said, referencing the president’s police data initiative that was launched earlier this year.

At a recent training session, the ASU officers learned how to sync the devices and manage the data. They also watched videos taken by body cameras from other police departments. One video clearly showed a man waving a large knife – a key point when the officers’ actions during the chaotic scene were later questioned.

Officers in the ASU department believe the cameras will benefit everyone.

A photograph of a body camera on an ASU Police officer

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