ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Wednesday was a history-making day when it comes to policing in the area. The St. Louis County Police Department began rolling out full-scale use of body cameras. They are the first large police department in the region to do so.
Nearly 700 St. Louis County Officers are now starting to train with the cameras. They're being phased-in at every one of the county’s eight precincts between now and the end of the year.
The “Body Worn” company is providing the cameras. The units look like smartphones and slide into a docking station and lens built into police uniforms. The company boasts automatic features. The cameras activate when an officer runs or goes down and also at the sound of gunfire. A sensor on the holster activates the camera when an officer draws his gun.
There is a watch-like controller for the officers, who can also tap the camera off and on through their uniforms for sensitive conversations with crime victims and witnesses. WiFi routers in the police cars will automatically upload videos to a cloud server so officers cannot edit them.
The $5.03 million contract covers close to 700 body cameras and 350 car cameras for five years.
“I’m certain it speaks to the context of what our officers are involved. We’re really beyond the point where we can no longer take a look at technology such as this that benefits us and the public we serve as we do our job,” said St. Louis County Police Chief, Jon Belmar.
Prop “P” funds are covering the cost. The chief also announced an expansion of the ShotSpotter program which uses neighborhood sensors to alert police to gunfire.
It has cut gun crime in the Castle Point area of North County, so it’s being expanded north to Spanish Lake, Belmar said.