Chief John Barber of the Ithaca Police Department announced on Nov. 2 that all officers in the Upstate New York department would be required to wear body cameras during “law enforcement operations,” as of 3 p.m. that Monday.
According to the Ithaca Journal, the cameras are intended to assist officers who are performing their duties by providing additional evidence for the prosecution of crimes. Additionally, the police department said, the cameras are meant to increase transparency and hold on-duty officers accountable for their actions.
The body cameras will upload video and audio data into a cloud-based data management system; officers will be able to review the footage, Barber explained, but they will not be able to delete it or modify it in any way.
According to the new policy, the Ithaca Police Department has defined “law enforcement operations” as “[p]atrol activities, responding to calls for service, traffic stops, arrests, searches, pursuits, physical or verbal confrontations, execution of warrants, and actively engaging in SWAT and/or CINT operations.”
Syracuse.com stated that the Ithaca Police Department has been discussing and forming the policy for around a year, and local authorities looked carefully at a variety of recording equipment before making any decisions.
“As more departments adopt body camera usage, it becomes apparent that wearing body cameras in general is a win/win for departments and the public,” says Jubal Ragsdale, President, 10-8 Video LLC. “All across the globe, citizens are demanding more accountability from law enforcement agencies. This includes wanting officers to have video of their citizen encounters. While I support an individual’s privacy when video is taken inside the home, any video in public should be available.”
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said in a statement that he was happy to see the body cameras “come to reality.”
“A year ago we set forth on a journey to equip IPD officers with body cameras because we realized the role they would play in increasing accountability between the Ithaca Police Department and the Ithaca community,” Myrick said. “We looked at different vendors, we talked to industry experts, and we teamed with all the stakeholders to choose the right camera and the right way to store the data. We wanted to be methodical and do it the right way instead of rushing into a decision.”
Barber echoed his statements, saying, “”These cameras are going to capture the excellent policework that I know our officers are putting forth every day.”