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Police To Trial Bodycams

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A US-style bodycam. Photo: Matt Skoufalos

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) is launching a programme to outfit police officers of its Mobile Division with body cameras.

Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson said the RBPF will be testing the technology for the next “several weeks”.

The cost of the programme is unclear. Commissioner Ferguson acknowledged key elements, such as how long data will be stored, will be subject to policy decisions. 

The move was welcomed yesterday by the Police Staff Association, with its chairman Sergeant Sonny Miller saying officers are excited to have the technology which is used by many other forces around the world.

“The commissioner has the authority to use whatever means is necessary for the smooth and efficient running of the police force,” Commissioner Ferguson told The Tribune.

In an earlier interview with ZNS over the weekend, he acknowledged complaints against police and said: “We recognise that from time to time, as officers go out on the road they interact with people and we want to be transparent and fair to people. We always like to be a professional organisation and we believe this new technology will enhance public confidence, it will enhance the professionalism of officers in an effort to bring good policing to our communities. We hope it will bring us in line with modern technology used around the world.”

The technology will be tested in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco.

The technology is such, the police chief said, that officers wearing them will not be able to alter the images.

“The images are downloaded at a different location,” he said.

As for storage, data will be downloaded to servers.

Use of body cameras became a big issue in the United States following a number of fatal civilian interactions with police officers over the years.

Officials hope the technology will inspire professionalism on all parts in a police interaction.

However, at least one significant study on the use of the technology indicate it does little to curtail unwanted police behaviour.

Under Commissioner Ferguson’s predecessor, Ellison Greenslade, 73 officers were discharged for misconduct. 

Thirteen people were dismissed from the RBPF in 2016 for misconduct and betrayal of the public trust. Public complaints against police officers last year included 101 complaints of assault, up from 86 in 2015. They also included 15 complaints of unethical behaviour, 12 of missing property, five of extortion, seven of unlawful arrest, four of threats of harm and five of causing harm.

One hundred and one of the complaints resulted in complete investigations in some form, statistics released in January show.

However, in 37 of the cases, officials found the complaints unsubstantiated while in a combined total of 11 cases officials found the complaints either unfounded or lacking sufficient evidence.

In only one case was an officer fired as consequence of a complaint.

In six cases, it was recommended the complainant be reimbursed and in nine cases it was recommended the complaint be taken before a court of enquiry and a tribunal, indicating a serious offence had been alleged.

In 18 cases, the complainant withdrew the complaint.

Comments

John 1 week ago

It is good for the police force to be abreast with technology and somewhat on the cutting edge, but according to Minister of National Security a more pressing concern on the police force is attrition, where members are leaving or being dismissed from the force faster than they can be replaced. And, hopefully, the force will get strong squads of new recruits. But the body cams are a good idea and while helping to keep the police officer's behavior in line, it can also assist in keeping officers safe when on dangerous assignments where they may be overpowered by suspects. And since everything will be recorded with the officer not having the ability to compromise the system, it no longer has to be a case of 'his word against mines."

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sheeprunner12 1 week ago

Still mimicking the USA ........... Meanwhile murders are continuing to occur daily ........ Will body cameras be taken into the CID interrogation rooms?????????

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Reality_Check 6 days, 11 hours ago

Our police need a lot more basic training, not this kind of equipment. All of the lawyers defending criminals will only use the video from this equipment (if the cams are still working after a few weeks) to mischievously allege police incompetence or brutality of some kind in the defense of their clients.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 days, 11 hours ago

And who will be the lucky unnecessary local intermediary to participate in the purchase contract for this costly equipment from abroad and also sign a lucrative (but worthless) service contract for its maintenance? Will it be the same local outfit that has made mega-bucks selling our law enforcement authorities all of the CCTV equipment that doesn't work after a few weeks?! Even the most developed countries have great difficulty affording and maintaining this type of equipment for law enforcement!!!

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Clamshell 6 days, 11 hours ago

This will last until the batteries run out and nobody has any spares. That’s what happened to the hand-held radar gun on Eleuthera — the officers had tons of fun with it until it ran out of juice.

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Reality_Check 5 days, 11 hours ago

Law enforcement authorities then find out that a new battery costs more than the total cost the original equipment with battery included!

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Alex_Charles 6 days, 10 hours ago

i like the idea, I ear for the procurement process and whichever vendor will be servicing them, providing tech support and training with it.

We have a long history is jackassery and Tom Fuckery in the Procurement department.

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bogart 6 days, 9 hours ago

Excellent move which should have been done a long time for any additional protection of our officers and enhansement of our justice dystem. Tired of reading these culprits caught while commiting tje crime but they go to court and get bail and plead not guilty. Some lawyers may protest but with the camera should nring a speedy conclusion to many cases.

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DDK 6 days, 8 hours ago

You are assuming there is no merit to the above posts?

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baldbeardedbahamian 6 days, 8 hours ago

The Police, Dem, want to videotape............................ All they do,' cept bathroom break................................. Can they turn it off if eating luncheon? ................................... Or slicking prisoners head with truncheon?.................................... It would be great if they would broadcast live........................... How they interact and how they drive....................................... It would be good and entertaining....................................... And also Police brutality restraining

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bogart 6 days, 6 hours ago

DDK, There is merit in everything everyone has to say, and querstion, some see the glass half full, partial, empty, broken and multitide of ways and I while I could not possibly agree in all degrees with every senario I agree for them to have that right to say it to educate all. In this particular case I like a couple of others like the ihe idea and I must stress that anything that has a chance of saving police and civilian lives and deterring criminals, I as a crime victim would be supportive.

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