Body microphones and dashboard cameras in squad cars are regularly in use at the South Bend Police Department, but officers may eventually be equipped with body cameras as well.
The department has been experimenting with various body cameras since November 2013 and recently added storage to their servers to hold data from the body cameras, Division Chief Scott Ruszkowski told 95.3 MNC.
The next step is to decide which model is right for the department. Some models begin recording automatically when a squad car lights are activated — a functionality already available in the dashboard cameras South Bend officers already use — while others require manual activation.
Ruszkowski estimates will cost about $250,000 to buy about 260 body cameras for the department.
The Elkhart City Council recently approved $96,000 to spend on body cameras for the Elkhart Police Department, but there is no timeline for when they will be implemented. Mishawaka Police Department is also considering body cameras.
Police departments across the country have purchased body cameras in response to growing concern from citizens about inappropriate police behavior. Ruszkowski said that he doesn’t believe that’s a problem in South Bend — instead, the cameras are something that officers want to help capture evidence.
In 2014, the South Bend Police Department dealt with about 250,000 people in 2014, he said. About 1,800 people were arrested and there were 88 instances where officers used force and three complaints.
”Everybody seems to be jumping on the bandwagon that ’Woah, police have to have cameras or else they’re doing something wrong,’“ Ruszkowski said. ”But that is not the case, I can assure you, in South Bend.”
The Board of Public Safety will have to approve the purchase of body cameras, but the issue has not yet been added to the board’s agenda.