PAPD to debut new body cameras

Published 5:32 pm Thursday, July 13, 2017

Port Arthur Police are preparing to hit the streets with new equipment and technology — body worn cameras.

Officers are in training this week learning the ins and outs of the new cameras. Daniel Ramsden, trainer with Utility Inc., is facilitating the training on BodyWorn, the new automated system.

An Android phone with appropriate software will serve as body cameras for PAPD.
Mary Meaux/The News

The body cameras will be secured in a vest-like garment that comes with a number of technological advances — it will activate when the car door is open, when the camera is horizontal more than 15 seconds it will alert all on duty, it can detect when an officer is running and it begins to record and it has gunshot detection, Ramsden said.

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“This is state-of-the-art,” Ramsden said of the device set on a Moto 2 platform. “It’s (technology behind it) is always evolving. It’s not a dumb phone, with this you have a small computer.”

Port Arthur Police Officer Sadie Guedry demonstrates the use of the new body camera.
Mary Meaux/The News

The Department of Justice has set guidelines for the body worn cameras such as field of vision. PAPD’s devices are modeled after what humans see – including peripheral vision.

Deputy Chief Michael Fratus said the department did it’s homework when searching for the right body camera to use.

“We did a lot of homework. So many agencies bought theirs real quick and it wasn’t the best fit for them,” Fratus said. “We did out homework and this is the best fit.”

The cost for the body cameras is about $147,000 per year as they are leased, not bought. By leasing, the department is able to receive all of the upgrades as they occur at no additional cost. The cost includes the hardware, software and the cloud server, which is the most expensive.

Also part of the deal is to upgrade the in-car video system as well as a related wrist watch-like device that will be available by August.

“The body camera adds a new aspect of accountability, not only to the community but to the department,” Fratus said.

PAPD has revamped its entire policy, which now includes rules on body cameras. Fratus said the policy change is driven by federal guidelines.