On May 16, a representative of the Hinesville Police Department requested from the city council permission to submit a grant application to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Request. If approved, HPD will be able to purchase 20 additional body cameras for their officers. The cameras will be issued to supervisors and narcotic detectives, according to HPD Chief Bill Kirkendall, and will replace the less expensive cameras officers are currently using.
Many residents may be unaware that the HPD has been utilizing body worn cameras (BWC) since 2012. These cameras, however, have had a slew of issues from the inability to redact faces and names from videos to video storage problems, according to Kirkendall. The new cameras, provided to HPD by LensLock, should solve a multitude of these issues. The department engaged in several field trials with multiple manufacturers, the chief said. In the end, LensLock was chosen specifically for its data storage. Unlike previous camera storage, which was stored on “local servers,” the footage from the new cameras will be uploaded to the cloud. Kirkendall stated that this will make finding videos easier for instances such as open record requests and complaint investigations.
Another problem that the new LensLock cameras should resolve is clarification for officers about whether or not the cameras are actually still on. Previous cameras had no real way to inform the officer that it was on, Kirkendall said. Officers had to continuously verify that that their cameras were recording. This was problematic because it would take their attention from something else that could be life threatening, the chief said. LensLock cameras vibrate every 30 seconds to let the officers know that it’s still on and recording. The new cameras also have improved battery life, he added.
“We started using video cameras in order to be transparent to the community,” Kirkendall said. “Whenever a complaint is received, we look to the video to resolve any discrepancies in the different accounts of the incident. We use the cameras to document crime scenes, accident scenes, or any contact with the public where a call for service was answered.”
The new expanding of the BWC program will be both highly beneficial to the HPD and at no expense to the community, the chief stressed.