Rice University Police Department (RUPD) officers are now using body cameras to assist with their police work.
The cameras are intended to document arrests, crime and accident scenes, confiscation of evidence and contraband and certain contacts with the public.
“This new technology will enhance RUPD’s ability to review probable cause for arrest, interaction between an officer and suspect, evidence for investigative and prosecutorial purposes and methods of obtaining evidence,” said Police Chief Johnny Whitehead. “Video from the cameras can also provide information to improve evaluation and training of our officers.”
The cameras were issued last week to all 31 RUPD officers, along with training on how and when to use them. The cameras are about the size of a computer mouse and can be clamped to the shirt at chest level. They are wireless and store up to five hours of recording. Files from the cameras will be downloaded securely by RUPD and stored for a minimum of 90 days.
While on duty, Rice police officers are required to activate the cameras when responding to calls for service that involve public contact and when investigating suspected criminal activity, including arrests, investigative detentions, searches, pursuits and vehicle and bicycle stops.
The policy gives RUPD officers the discretion to honor requests that someone not be recorded, such as in certain situations in residential college rooms and apartments, or when witnesses want to provide anonymous tips.
Whitehead said the use of body cameras is in line with the best practices of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services, which has noted that this new technology can positively affect how officers relate to the people in their community as well as the community’s perception of the police.
“I believe these cameras will help foster even greater trust between our officers and the community we serve,” Whitehead said.