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City begins implementation of body cameras

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This story originally appeared in the May 1, 2017 issue of GSA Business Report.

The Greenville Police Department has begun training officers in the use of body cameras. The department began training officers in mid-April and is expected to conclude the training around May 5.

In 2015, the S.C. General Assembly enacted a law that “encouraged police use of body-worn cameras and required a state-approved policy for managing such a system,” according to a news release from the city of Greenville.

According to the release, the city selected the Flex-2 body camera by Axon.

“This system met or exceeded all of the city’s requirements, including those for training officers, supervisors and prosecutors,” the release said. “Prior to receiving the body cameras, officers will undergo classroom instruction on device operation and policy expectations. Further, Axon provides cloud storage of video and a prosecutor software platform to enable convenient access to prosecutors for courtroom preparation, hearings and trial.”

The Greenville Police Department applied for and was one of 73 recipients of a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice/Bureau of Justice Assistance for $93,750 toward the purchase of the cameras and the Greenville City Council approved an additional $126,250 for the balance of the purchase price and first-year implementation.

According to Johnathan Bragg, media relations officer with the Greenville Police Department, the $220,000 covers the cost of the purchase of 298 cameras for the department. The city will have a yearly cost associated with storing video evidence in Axon’s cloud.

Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller said the use of the cameras will be a benefit to both the department and the community.

“We believe that the use of body-worn cameras is an important step forward in preventing and addressing police-community conflict. They can help us diffuse tensions and need for force, and can help us better understand and explain those instances where police actions are questioned,” Miller said, in the release. “While they may not fully capture every event or every angle, these cameras are extraordinarily useful in evaluating interactions between the police and public, and in improving professional performance.”

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