Say cheese! Campus police get body cams

cams

Kean Police Lt. Vincent Kearney stands with body cameras in Police Headquarters on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. (Credit: Rebecca Panico)

By: Nicole Brown | Published October 22, 2015

The next time you come in contact with a Kean police officer you may want to smile and say cheese. That’s because the officer is wearing a camera.

In March, Kean University became one of the first public colleges in New Jersey to equip their police officers with body cameras, according to Kean Lieutenant Vincent Kearney, support services commander for the Kean University Department of Public Safety.

Kearney said the decision to implement police body cameras was considered in the beginning of last year and was put into eff ect March of this year.

“There was no specific incident which prompted our decision,” said Kearney. “We found the body cameras to be quite eff ective in documenting the actions of both our officers and the members of the community that they contact on official business.”

Kearny said the body cameras initially cost about $15,000 which includes physical hardware such as docking stations and cloud-base storage solution.

In an email, he explained that the body camera’s internal, rechargeable battery allows eight hours of continual recordings, which is equivalent to 16 hours of standby time. Kearney also said whenever an officer leaves police headquarters he or she must have the camera powered on at all times.

When the officer hits the record button, the camera starts to record audio and video. It also includes the latest 30 seconds of video without audio prior to the record button being pressed.

As soon as the officer returns to the station, the camera is docked and the recordings are uploaded to the cloud while it charges.

“The body cameras record in all lighting conditions using natural light,” said Kearney. “The camera cannot see much more than the human eye in darkness, but the recorded view captures more than a person can focus on at one time.”

A recent research report that was conducted by the National Institute of Justice stated that police body cameras can result “in the documentation of better evidence and an increase in accountability and transparency” as it regards to an officer’s interaction with the public.

But not everyone agrees. In the public debate about body cameras some like Naiyah Cross, a Criminal Justice major, said wearing a body camera doesn’t change anything.

“Initially, I thought it was a great idea,” said Cross. “It may decrease police brutality, but they can tamper with the recordings. After all, police brutality is inevitable.”

Kearney said an officer is not able to manipulate recordings. “The cameras cannot be directly accessed and officers have limited rights in the cloud management system for the recordings,” Kearney said.


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