Sometime this year, all BART police officers will begin wearing cameras to record their actions.
The policy is in the process of being finalized, but Shante Barnes, a training specialist officer, said that trainers travelled to Arizona in mid-October to study proper usage and video storage of the camera. After the official launch date each BART patrol officer will be assigned a camera to wear on duty, and once they engage with a person they must turn on the camera to record their actions.
“You have some officers who have purchased their own and they’re wearing them now,” Barnes said.
BART police received $141,000 from the federal Transit Security Grant Program for the cameras. A fact sheet from BART PD stated, “The primary purpose of the grant was to have cameras to record incidents to assist the Dept with counter-terrorism investigations.”
Lieutenant Kevin Franklin, BART’s manager of security programs, stated in an email that recorded incidents help counter-terrorism measures by providing video evidence that can be archived and analyzed during an investigation.
The fact sheet also stated that the cameras can be used as evidence to show what did or did not happen in an incident.
”We receive complaints about incidents that are then taken to court,” Barnes said. “The idea is that the cameras should help with that.”
The on-officer camera was introduced by Taser International in February and is called the AXON flex video system. The company’s website states that U.S. law enforcement spends approximately $2 billion in settlements each year to resolve claims.
BART PD will be using the collar mount version of the device, in which the 15-gram, 3.2 inch long camera will be attached to the uniform collar of the officer.
The agency will be one of the first nationwide to use the on-officer video cameras, joining police departments in Chula Vista, Calif., Chesapeake, Va. and Atlanta.
A side benefit, the fact sheet stated, is that videos taken using the cameras will increase transparency.
BART PD officials have said they cannot release further statements until more details regarding the policy are finalized.