As Police Body Cam Tech Evolves, Some Cities Pull Back

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Axon Enterprise Inc., the leading global maker of U.S. police officer body cameras and technologies, announced Tuesday that the Cincinnati Police Department is the first major agency to receive the newest Axon Body 3rd generation body-worn camera as part of the Officer Safety Plan 7+, FOX19 reports.

This comes as other major cities, including Washington D.C., and New York City, appear to be debating body camera effectiveness and battling implementation.

Cincinnati PD placed the order for more than 1,000 Axon Body 3 Cameras a few months ago, and they’re being shipped now. Cincinnati PD also stated that they’ve begun using Axon Records as their new Records Management System (RMS), and they will “…continue to deploy additional modules throughout 2020 and beyond as part of an agencywide RMS upgrade to Axon Records,” PR Newswire reports.

The most notable improvement of the Axon Body 3 is the better low-light image quality and updated audio technology, FOX19 reports.

The new version also features gunshot detection, live streaming, and wireless uploads, Axon reports.

Axon’s Officer Safety Plan 7+, which will give all officers the TASER 7 and Axon Body 3, was developed by the company to help “capture the truth” and “keep officers and communities safer.” Axon also claims that their plan is more cost-effective for budgeting agencies because they are offering the newest technology discounted when bundled together.

New York City just completed its roll-out of 20,000 body-worn cameras to all uniformed patrol officers earlier this year. But many speculate that the city won’t be outfitting their officers with Axon’s newest cameras because cops “deployed” into the city’s subway system by Governor Andrew Cuomo to stop fare evasion and homelessness will not be required to wear any recording devices, Gothamist reports.

Their reasoning, an MTA spokesperson confirmed, is that the new officers are not a part of the NYPD. The spokesperson also added that they are “in discussion with the MTA PBA about implementation” in the future, according to Gothamist.

In July of this year, the Associated Press published an analysis which found that New York City is far behind the rest of the country in camera usage and implementation, while being “one of just five states in which the primary law enforcement body is not required to use dash cams.”

Washington D.C. requires officers to use dash cams, and has had their roughly 3,000 uniformed officers wearing body cameras as part of their uniform since December 2018, WTOP reports. However, they’ll most likely pass on the Axon upgrades as well.

On Monday, the D.C. Council began reviewing the effectiveness of the District’s police body camera program. According to the majority of those testifying, they said the program isn’t working well.

Charles Allen, the Judiciary and Public Safety Chair, expressed his frustration about how the police department has run the program and said, “After five years, it’s appropriate to take a step back and look at what parts have worked well and which parts haven’t worked well, and help guide where we go from here.”

The D.C. police didn’t respond to the criticism raised by the Council, just as the MTA police union and Governor Cuomo’s Office didn’t respond to reporter’s inquiries.

This summary was prepared by Andrea Cipriano, a TCR staff writer.

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