On Monday, October 4, 2021, the Newberg-Dundee Police Department (NDPD) took another step forward in their mission to improve community safety and increase transparency through the use of body-worn cameras.
Having applied for a grant to purchase the cameras, the department has issued cameras to a small sample of three officers to evaluate the features and logistics of three different camera vendors. The camera trials are the second stage of the departments planned process. Once the trials are complete, the department anticipates issuing a request for proposal, selecting a vendor, completing the grant funding process, and creating intentional strategy around implementation and policy.
The NDPD plans to promote community discourse by opening up the policy to input and questions. Chief Kosmicki emphasized, “I think it’s important to craft a policy that the entire community benefits from…we want to be transparent by having a conversation about the policy and answering questions that are going to come up.”
Not only do body-worn cameras increase transparency, the department is also excited by their ability to protect all parties involved in an interaction, promote civility, provide evidence for investigations, and produce potential officer training material.
“We want to be as transparent as possible. I want people to have faith in this department that we will always do our best, I think having a camera can help us get there,” said Chief of Police Jeff Kosmicki.
Cameras and infrastructure are expected to cost $480,000 over 5 years. The NDPD has sought grant funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program to Support Law Enforcement Agencies. If successful, this funding would defray the cost to purchase the cameras in one year.
The camera trials represent a step forward for a goal the department has had since 2015. With new opportunities for funding, the department is excited to start the program with the knowledge gathered over the years. Chief Kosmicki stated, “We have the advantage of being able to learn from other agencies and the challenges they faced during implementation. We’re taking a holistic approach to this program so that the adjustment curve is as smooth as possible.”
The body-worn camera trials will allow the department to assess various components of the cameras and implementation systems including financial cost, technical issues, privacy issues, data storage, digital security, and the consideration of human error. An example of an important feature being evaluated is a camera’s ability to automatically activate and begin recording when an officer is faced with an emergency. File storage and ease of use is also being considered including cataloging, retrieving, sharing, and censoring personal identifying information in recordings.
The NDPD is currently implementing a preliminary policy for the body-worn cameras that will be reviewed after trials are complete. Part of the review process will include a conversation with community members about the policy and implementation. Chief Kosmicki expects the policy to change significantly throughout the camera trials and review process, before reaching a consensus.
Source: City of Newberg