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NDPD officials hope to have the devices in place by July if supply chain issues don't get in the way

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Newberg-Dundee Police Department has selected the company that will provide a device that has now gained wide acceptance in law enforcement agencies across the land: body-worn cameras (BWCs).

The Newberg-Dundee Police Department has selected the company that will provide a device that has now gained wide acceptance in law enforcement agencies across the land: body-worn cameras (BWCs).

The city announced last week that it had selected the company Axon as the vendor of the devices for the department. The department settled on Axon after consulting with three law enforcement agencies that already have implemented BWCs. NDPD officials also attended trainings, established policies and field tested BWCs from Axon as well as the companies Getac and Watchguard.

"During the selection process, there was a consideration and emphasis put on the most automated, fail-safe features such as automatic activation if an officer draws their firearm, AutoCAD tagging and the integration of tasers, to name a few," a release from the city said.

The Newberg City Council voted Feb. 22 to authorize the city to enter into a $414,900 contract with Axon, which also distributes the tools to administrate them. The five-year contact will be offset to a degree by an $86,000 grant the city received from the U.S. Department of Justice; the grant must be matched by the city. The city intends to reapply for the DOJ grant in future years to offset the costs of the program, estimated at $82,900 annually over the course of five years.

Prior to the council's approval, the NDPD had begun working on a department policy and general guidelines for use of the devices. Once approved NDPD officers tested models from various companies for about seven months.

"At the end of the trials and assessment, the internal testing group clearly favored the capabilities of Axon company and deemed it best suited for our police department," the release said.

The policy was then forwarded to a committee of community members.

"On April 21, our community stakeholders on the committee met at the Public Safety Building for several hours for a productive conversation that led to the improvement and approval of our body-worn camera policy that will guide officers as they use this valuable tool," the release said. "It is important to note that this body-worn camera policy has also been approved by the Department of Justice."

The department hopes to have the devices in operation before July but noted that supply chain issues could slow the rollout. All told, the department plans to purchase 43 BWCs, "one for each officer, detective and reserve police officer," Chief Jeff Kosmicki said in February.

Kosmicki added that the three cameras used in the trials have been retained by the department and that officers quickly warmed to the devices.

"I can tell you that during the trials it was pretty common to hear an officer request a second officer with a camera to accompany them," he said. "The camera only captures much of what occurs (between) a citizen and an officer. I think the camera will help with report writing and documenting evidence."

BWCs are small, battery-powered digital video cameras similar to the GoPro devices that are popular for outdoor sports. The BWCs are mounted to an officer's shirt, vest or jacket and must be manually activated to begin recording by the officer. At the end of the officer's shift, the cameras are placed in a docking station. Recordings can be extracted from the cameras, processed by a records technician and stored indefinitely in a cloud-based system. HYPERLINK "https://pamplinmedia.com/images/artimg/00003728540397-0721.jpg"

According to a DOJ report, the primary benefits of an officer donning a BWC are that it reduces complaints, aids in resolving officer-involved incidents and assists in identifying and correcting internal agency problems. "Body-worn cameras have a civilizing effect, resulting in improved behavior among both police officers and citizens," the report said.

"BWC's increase transparency between officers and the public; they can help with any personnel complaints also," Kosmicki said in an email.

"People are more apt to behave better if they know they are on camera; it has a civilizing effect. The presence of BWC video has also been shown to improve the collection of evidence and the recollection of statements, which both strengthen a criminal case sent for prosecution. Body-worn camera footage can also be used as a valuable training tool; video of real events can be critiqued, analyzed and discussed amongst the officers."

The department, according to the resolution adopted by the City Council, expects that use of the BWCs will lead to a reduction in false claims and payouts via lawsuits; assist in resolving citizen complaints, "since there will be a video of what took place"; improve evidence gathering and encourage "all parties involved in the recording to maintain a higher standard of behavior during an incident."


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