By David Meade
Williamston Police Officers are now wearing MobileView body cameras through a partnership wih UTC Fire and Security Americas Corporation. The department recently received a donation of 10 cameras which are clipped to the front of the officers uniform along with a docking station, software and storage space for recording video.
The cameras are part of a trial program in which the local department will provide feedback every week, according to Williamston Police Chief TonyTaylor.
The presence of cameras will benefit the community and officers by improving police services, increasing accountability and enhancing public safety, according to Chief Taylor.
“Use of the cameras will help ensure the safety of both our officers and the public,” he said.
Taylor said the cameras also “help in determining legitimate complaints.”
According to Taylor, use of the cameras in the pilot program is intended to further the mission of the department and enhance service to the community by accurately documenting events, actions, conditions, and statements made during citizen encounters, traffic stops, arrests, and other incidents.
“The department has developed a policy on use of the cameras which is being implemented anytime an officer conducts business, answers a complaint or makes a traffic stop,” Taylor said.
For the trial program, UTC donated 10 cameras and a self-contained docking station valued at over $25,000. The donation will remain the property of the Williamston Police Department after the pilot evaluation.
Sanwar Hussain, Director of Business Development and Tatiana Klimova, Technical Product Manager traveled to Williamston from their home base in California to provide training in camera use and fundamentals to the officers of the WPD last week.
The cameras are also a part of the mayor’s initiative for the Williamston Police Deparmtent to be a progressive agency,” Taylor said. “Body cameras are becoming more improtant to law enforcement agencies.”
Taylor said the state is requiring law enforcement agencies to begin using body cameras and how to implement the requirement is currently being studied.
“We will be ahead of the game,” Taylor said. “Use of cameras is in the test phase and our officers are getting used to using them.”
Taylor said the biggest issue so far is officers making themselves aware to turn the cameras on when they have an encounter.
The department has 17 officers and plans to buy additional cameras at a cost of approximately $5,000, according to Taylor.
Chief Taylor said he expects to purchase an additional 10 cameras within the next six months so that every officer in the department and constables will have them.