Mission police chief says body cameras aren’t high quality

The Mission Police Department’s body cameras aren’t high quality anymore.

Police Chief Ben Hadley said the body cameras “bounce,” even when walking, and are easy to fall off when officers are running or in a physical confrontation.

“When you’re in a fight or you’re running, the body camera doesn’t do you much good when it falls off,” Hadley told the finance and administration committee Wednesday, Aug. 1. “And when you move at all — even walking up to a car — if you have vertigo, it’ll make you almost sick watching the video bouncing up and down.”

The department’s 30 body cameras cost approximately $400-500 each, and all video is retained “in-house,” which means the department must also pay for a server to store the videos.

“In the beginning, we were sending one-third [of them] back to the vendor due to update errors and IT issues,” Hadley said. “This is something that was not anticipated, and to ship the cameras out of state to be fixed was an issue, as it would take weeks [or] months to get them back.”

Hadley said the department will wait until 2020 to purchase new body cameras because they have scheduled to replace the front line fleet of patrol vehicles, body cameras, and in-car cameras at the same time.

“Best to have the cameras all on the same system,” Hadley said.

Over the years, body camera have become smaller and better on their design and quality, Hadley said.

Hadley said he is unsure how much the new body cameras will cost, but the biggest expense is the “in-house” storage, or the cloud, not the cameras themselves.

Nonetheless, the police chief said body cameras and in-car cameras are “vital to police work.”

“They help capture evidence of what took place on calls for service, vehicle stops and internal affairs complaints,” he said. “However, video and audio is not always everything. There are different views where some things are not visible, depending on your point of view from the camera.”

Before the police department purchased brand-new their current cameras in 2014 or 2015, they conducted a trial and error on several kinds, and their current body cameras were deemed “the best” for the department at that time.

Hadley said the officers “never had these problems” with in-car cameras, which work great.

The police chief plans to test new body cameras on two officers as well as two new in-car cameras this summer, to “try those out and make sure we’re asking for the right thing,” the police chief told the committee.