Body-worn cameras is the future of policing as more and more law enforcement agencies are proactively working on providing transparency to the community they serve. Boulder Colorado’s County Sheriff’s Office is one of the agencies who employed body-worn cameras as a way to address the challenges that their county is experiencing.
To talk about this initiative, Robert Sullenberger, Jason Oehlkers, and James Wolfinbarger join today’s session. Robert “Sully” Sullenberger is a 39-year veteran with the Boulder Colorado County Sheriff’s Office where he currently serves as the Division Chief for Operations. Commander Jason Oehlkers has been with the Boulder Colorado County Sheriff’s Office for 27 years and is currently assigned to the Administrative Division where he’s in charge of the training and personnel sections. Finally, Retired Colonel James “Jim” Wolfinbarger is the law enforcement ambassador and industry expert of Motorola, the vendor that Boulder chose for their BWC program.
The three of them impart their experience and insights about Boulder County Sheriff’s Office’s body-worn camera project. Some of the things they shared are:
- A brief background on Boulder, Colorado, the county’s terrain, population and the structure of the Sheriff’s Office.
- The challenges the county experienced related to transparency, disparate sources of video and photo content, data storage, and redaction processes which pushed them to employ BWCs.
- The factors considered by the county on their process to procure the BWCs.
- The RFP process that involves stakeholders from various agencies/departments, the due diligence to look into other agencies with existing BWC programs, and going through numerous vendors.
- The testing phase where devices from various vendors were used side-by-side during an in-service training with mock scenarios to see the device’s performance in various settings.
- Implementing the BWC program by starting with a pilot run that further tested the equipment and rolling it out in phases with an SME assigned per shift who can address questions and issues.
- Developing the policy that went through fine-tuning based on the pilot run and communicating the policy and how the BWCs impact workload to the personnel.
- The integrated Capture app that streamlines processes by syncing footages to the cloud storage instead of manually sending captured content.
- The complete solution provided by Motorola that integrates with the radio system and has Wi-Fi upload capability.
- The benefits that Boulder County Sheriff’s Office experienced with:
- High-quality audio and video.
- Robust storage capacity and automatic uploading with Wi-Fi.
- Deputies spending less time on administrative tasks.
- ‘Body-cam saves’ through BWC footage that can save weeks’ worth of investigations.
- Enhanced transparency and trust within the community.
- Streamlined access to evidence for the DA’s office.
- Lessons learned from the whole end-to-end process of procuring the BWCs, developing the policy and launching the program that includes
- A change in culture, habits, and behavior.
- The importance of generating a regular usage report.
- Other evolving practices like establishing how BWC footage is used vis-à-vis reports.
- Learning from others’ mistakes.
- Based on Las Vegas experience of rolling-out everything in one go.
- Another agency’s issue encountered with the number of open records request.
- Questions raised by the audience are related to:
- Using BWCs alongside dashcams/in-car cameras.
- Policies surrounding interviewing victims in a medical facility.
- Securing funding for the program.
- Concerns with officers using personal devices to capture videos and photos of the crime scene.
- The process involved in redactions.
- The DA’s Office’s permissions to access the footage.
- Time spent classifying and tagging footages and naming conventions
- The device’s battery life.
- Statutes related to public records and open records request.
- Things that Boulder County did towards the successful implementation of the BWC initiative.
The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) is one of the largest associations of law enforcement professionals in the United States, representing more than 3,000 elected sheriffs across the nation, and a total membership of more than 20,000. NSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies, and others in the field of criminal justice and public safety. Throughout its seventy-seven year history, NSA has served as an information clearinghouse for sheriffs, deputies, chiefs of police, other law enforcement professionals, state governments and the federal government.
Motorola Solutions has been serving the law enforcement community with mission-critical communications and public safety software for more than 90 years. As the only end-to-end public safety software provider, law enforcement agencies around the nation rely on our expertise, services, and solutions to better connect and protect in the moments that matter most, from call to case closure.
Resources Mentioned During the Webinar:
- “Today’s webinar was very well presented, covered the questions a LE agency should consider when choosing a BWC.” –Julia
- “The process and functionalities covered were extremely beneficial.” –Elliott
- “The speakers provided some good information, especially during the Q/A.” –Kenneth