The West Lafayette Police Department is one of the first in the state to use cell-phone-based body cameras. Chief Jason Dombkowski is calling the program a game changer. The department started using the new ‘BodyWorn’ technology late last week. Officers no longer have to remember to press record in the field.

There are several automatic recording triggers such as when an officer starts running, grabs his gun, or turns on his lights. Dombkowski said, “It has gunshot recognition technology, it recognizes when a gunshot goes off and alerts dispatch.”

Before this new BodyWorn technology, it wasn’t uncommon for an officer to forget to press record. “Cause things can go to zero to a hundred just like that,” said Dombkowski.

It also has a GPS feature so dispatchers can send officers closest to a call. And in the event an officer goes down, Dombkowski said the unit “contacts all the officers on duty and gives them turn by turn directions to where that officer is.” He says it’s well worth the investment.

And all footage recorded by the cameras is immediately sent and saved to the cloud for storage.

“It’s not just the future of law enforcement, it’s the present. It’s what is required now for transparency, accountability, and documentation of evidence for court,” Dombkowski said. The five-year contract with BodyWorn will cost the department $70,000 per year. Dombkowski says it will end up paying off because the program won’t become obsolete like the others.

He said, “Before, each camera we had was about a $1,000 a piece, and that was on us to replace that every two to three years.” But this company will update the hardware and software as it advances. It’s a lease, not a purchase.

Dombkowski says we can expect several new features from this company in the future, including facial recognition and an app that can tell you the caliber of a weapon by recording the sound of the gunshot.