IMPD launches body camera program for officers NEWS by: Jesse Wells, Alexa Green

by: Jesse WellsAlexa Green

INDIANAPOLIS — Starting today, body-worn cameras are being installed on more than a thousand Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers. The permanent program follows years of studies.

The plan is to equip ten officers a day with body-worn cameras. That means it will take several months to install the cameras on 1,100 officers, but once that’s complete the hope is the program increases accountability and trust in the department.

“Every resident in our city deserves to have the same trust in their experience with law enforcement officers,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Today is a win for a better police community relationship on both sides.”

The renewed effort to finalize a body worn program for IMPD intensified following a deadly officer involved shooting in early May that claimed the life of Dreasjon Reed and sparked a series of protests.

“We know that body cameras are one part of a larger effort to improve trust between our community and law enforcement, but this step is a significant one,” said Hogsett.

The program kicked off with the cameras being seamlessly integrated into IMPD uniforms.

Mobile data boxes are also being installed into IMPD squad cars, allowing video to be uploaded to the cloud in real time. where it’s stored for 180 days.

All officers that respond to 911 calls will be outfitted with cameras, starting on IMPD’s east district.

“We know that video alone does not ensure justice, but I do believe this is a step toward transparency that is long overdue,” said Samantha Douglas with the Far Eastside Community Council.

IMPD leadership demonstrated how the cameras will automatically begin rolling when on officer activates their sirens, gets with 500 feet of a dispatched run, draws their service weapon, begins to run or lies flat for 10 seconds.

The 5.5-year, $9.2 million contract covers the cost of leasing the technology, installation, cloud-based video storage, upgrades after three years, maintenance and local support to help with technology issues.

The cameras will automatically turn on in certain situations, such as:

  • Being within 500 feet of a dispatched run

  • Drawing the gun from its holster

  • Beginning to run

  • Lying flat for 10 seconds

  • Violently shaking, such as during a fight

  • Activating lights and/or sirens in the car

  • Unlocking the shotgun rack

“Residents should assume any interaction they have with officers is being recorded and officers will not be able to tamper with the recordings,” said IMPD chief Randal Taylor.

IMPD has experimented with body worn cameras for years, starting with a pilot program in 2014, then another in 2019.

Leaders contend better technology and lower costs made the permanent program feasible.

“Where prior efforts were sidetracked due to cost or lack of community input, we were determined to get this right,” said Hogsett. “Today we take a long overdue step toward a better environment to criminal justice in Indianapolis.”

“This has been a long process and the wait has been frustrating to many, but I’m confident that this process has ensured the best use of tax payers dollars and hope it improves the relationship with neighbors we serve,” said Taylor.

The ACLU issued a written statement that read:

Police body cameras have the potential to serve as a much-needed police oversight tool, but without good policies, body cameras risk becoming just another police surveillance device. We are looking at the current body camera policy that IMPD has issued and have shared an ACLU model policy with IMPD. Especially important are policies governing when the cameras are turned on, and who has access to the footage and under what conditions.