Wayne State’s 70 police officers now wear a technological device that travels with them throughout their daily shifts. Affixed to the chest area of their uniforms, the lightweight gadget offers another level of surveillance capability that is used by more than half of the nation’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies.
Commonly referred to as body cams, the devices capture video and audio as the patrol officers carry out their daily duties. Anthony Holt, Wayne State University chief of police, considers the addition of body cams a win-win for both officers and the public.
“The fact that interactions between police officers and the public they serve is documented through video provides multiple benefits for all parties,” Holt said. “The camera footage offers excellent training opportunities when reviewed by patrol officers and their supervisors, as well as assisting in investigations. Officers are able to see firsthand how they handled various situations, and if necessary, look for ways to improve.”
Holt pointed to other positive factors that have emerged through the use of body cam technology. “Body cams provide another level of accountability and transparency that is very important to police officers. They know that their actions and job-related skills are under constant surveillance. This component also may contribute towards improved officer safety as they deal with challenging and sometimes life threatening situations.”
Following a yearlong process of testing equipment, completing two pilot trials, evaluating vendors and conducting cost effective analysis, body cams were purchased and placed into service on Sept. 16. All Wayne State University Police Department (WSUPD) patrol officers are required to wear the devices.
The addition of body cams now provides virtually non-stop surveillance opportunities during patrol officers’ typical eight-hour shifts. While patrolling in cruisers, the dash cams are operational and during foot patrol, the body cams are activated.
Each body cam battery has a life of 12 hours before charging, which can accommodate the occasional 12-hour shift. Charging and off-loading the video data from a typical day’s usage runs simultaneously. Because the data collected is considerable and video data is massive, syncing is not instantaneous, but it does occur within a relatively short amount of time.
Holt said that with the addition of body cams, WSUPD is equipped with three major levels of surveillance technology that significantly enhance campus security. “The greater community of Wayne State University students, faculty, staff and Midtown residents benefit from these tools — body cams, dash cams and more than 2,000 video cameras stationed around the campus. These resources help WSUPD to do its job of ensuring a safe and livable campus.”