Created: January 21, 2021 09:48 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office has started using cell phones as body cameras.
According to the department, 313 personnel have been trained to use the new devices.
As KOB previously reported, the county recently signed a multi-million dollar deal with Utility Associates for the cellphone-based technology.
Sheriff Manny Gonzales and BCSO leaders spent months researching different devices after New Mexico lawmakers passed a bill that requires local law enforcement to wear body cameras when interacting with the public.
The bill was passed after nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.
“It’s definitely a leap forward in progress as far as the technology, as far as the equipment,” said Lt. Pete Golden, a watch commander with BCSO.
“The overall system – the way in integrates, it seems like it’s lightyears from what we were using before,” he added.
The cameras start automatically start recording when deputies unholster their gun, respond to a call or active their vehicle’s lights.
Before the new law took effect, several groups and policymakers asked BCSO to start using body cameras to increase transparency.
“We now have body worn cameras so that issue is now null and void,” Golden said.
“The cameras that we have gone with include technology that other body worn cameras or body worn equipment just don’t seem to have,” he added.
On top of the body cameras, the sheriff’s office received more than 144 in-car video systems with dash cams and five years’ worth of training.
“The nice thing is it helps us and the community catch each other doing things right,” said Golden.
“If there’s a concern or questions, we not only have audio, we also have video to go back to and that does help,” he added.
According to BCSO, videos are downloaded to a deputy’s cell phone and uploaded to the cloud.
Officials told KOB they hope to have all the cameras up and running by the end of the month.