On-Duty Police Officers in Iowa City Equipped With Body Cameras

New policy mandates that all footage be downloaded no later than the end of each officer’s shift.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -The Iowa City Police Department (ICPD) has outfitted its on-duty officers with body cameras, as well as implemented a new policy governing their use.

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The ICPD issued cameras to its entire force on July 27, joining the Coralville, North Liberty and University of Iowa Police departments that have equipped all on-duty officers with cameras in recent years, according to The Association Press.

Body-worn cameras for police officers have become a topic of national conversation in the last year after widely publicized deaths of black men and women at the hands of police, like 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was killed in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014. But ICPD Chief Sam Hargadine tells AP his department was interested in using body cameras before the Ferguson incident, and has been studying the costs and advantages of different kinds of cameras.

“It’s probably been close to a two-year process and the technology has evolved dramatically over those two years,” Hargadine said. The department purchased 11 body cameras in 2013, which have mainly been used by officers on foot patrol in the pedestrian mall area.

ICPD ultimately settled on the BodyVision camera from L3 Mobile Vision, at a cost of $60,000 for 84 cameras and associated equipment, excluding the cost of labor for the department’s systems analyst to prepare the cameras and storage system for use, according to AP. Ease of use was important, Hargadine said, because officers already carry significant amounts of equipment.

“When we went to body cameras, we wanted to make it as simple and as seamless as we could for the officer,” he said.

New ICPD policy mandates that all footage be downloaded no later than the end of each officer’s shift – something the BodyVision cameras automatically do when docked in their charging stations, saving officers that step. The ICPD also uses the L3 brand for its in-car cameras, which it has used since the 1990s, so the storage system is the same. That saves the department from having to learn a new system and the cost of buying it, which Hargadine called “a huge savings to the taxpayer.”

One of the biggest concerns for Iowa City police was privacy, according to Hargadine. When drafting General Order 99-08 – the policy that governs ICPD body cam use – the department consulted with staff from the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, which often offers advice to departments crafting similar policies.

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