Over the next couple of months, 550 Buffalo Police Officers will be trained on using body cameras while out on calls. This comes a year after the department rolled out their pilot program, and as of Friday 12 officers have been trained. At the start of each shift, the officer will put on the camera, that way he or she can record each interaction.
Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said not every call must be recorded, and that the officers can use discretion when to not press record. He said this typically applies to when an officer responds to a scene at a hospital, involving a sex assault victim or a crime involving a minor. But in these cases, the officer must state their reason not to record before turning the camera off.
At the end of each shift, the videos get uploaded to a secure cloud system. If the public wants to access it, they must file a Freedom of Information request. Videos involved in an ongoing investigation cannot be released.
“We did hear from members of the public that we concerned that they didn’t want their images on a public realm,” Rinaldo said. “They didn’t want the inside of their house, their children, on our police video to suddenly be released to whoever wants it. So there will be a lot of work that goes into releasing these videos.”
This program costs roughly three million dollars, which pays for the cameras and storing the video. But even with this pricetag, Rinaldo said he thinks starting this program is worth it.
“It will show, not only the great work our officers do but, it will actually enhance criminal investigations,” he said. “It does lend itself to police transparency for departments, which is important, not only here in Buffalo, but around the country. And it also helps to strengthen community ties.”
Rinaldo said he hopes to have the officers in the downtown district trained by St. Patrick’s Day, before then going on to train the other five departments and three units.