Indianapolis police announced Monday the phased rollout of body cameras for 1,100 officers on its force, beginning with the department’s busiest East District.
The move comes after years of pilot studies and officer-involved shootings. In 2020 alone, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers have fatally shot three people. Also this year IMPD officer Breann Leath was fatally shot while responding to a domestic violence call.
“Every community in our city deserves to feel that they are being served and listened to as much as any other citizen,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said Monday. “Simultaneously, I want our IMPD officers to feel that they are supported in what is often a very dangerous job.”
When will the IMPD body camera program be fully adopted?
IMPD anticipates all 1,100 officers to be fully equipped with body cameras by October or early November at the latest. Officers will be initially trained on the use of the cameras as they are equipped with them.
When is the police body camera recording?
Officers must have their cameras on for every citizen interaction except when citizens in specific situations request cameras off for their privacy, Chief Randal Taylor said.
If an officer fails to activate the camera or the technology does not work, the officer must notify a supervisor.
The cameras begin recording automatically after certain triggers, including when an officer draws a gun from its holster, begins to run, lies flat for 10 seconds, activates lights or sirens in the squad car or begins violently shaking.
Officers also can begin recording through a bluetooth band attached to their wrist or gun belt.
Who has access to body cam footage?
Releasable videos can be obtained through a public records request on indy.gov.
But state law allows for police to withhold body camera recordings for certain reasons, including if the release could cause substantial harm to a person or could interfere with the ability of a person to receive a fair trial.
Police also may withhold footage if it can affect an ongoing investigation or if the footage does not serve the public’s interest, according to state law.
Videos of critical incidents, such as officer-involved shootings, may be released at the chief’s discretion, Taylor said.
“Our intention is to get that information out as quickly as possible,” Taylor said. “Even if we can’t do that … to the general public, then the goal is indeed to bring family members in and other stakeholders within the city to be able to view that video as soon as possible.”
State law requires police to retain footage for at least 190 days.
How long did it take Indianapolis to adopt police body cameras?
The $9.2 million contract with Utility Inc. follows more than a decade of discussion.
The city previously conducted two pilot studies, but Indianapolis remained the largest U.S. city without such cameras, an IndyStar analysis found.
Following a national movement over racial equality and protests over the death of Black residents by police, IMPD has announced a number of reforms.
“While the start of this program is long overdue, we are nonetheless hopeful,” Taylor said. “Because this milestone is but one part of our larger steps towards progress.”
City officials have previously cited limited financial resources as a reason for the delay.
“Thanks to improvements in technology over the years, costs — though still significant — have decreased,” Hogsett said.