Greenville Police Department working to implement new body camera technology designed for transparency

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The Greenville Police Department could soon implement new body camera technology that would automatically start recording when an officer unholsters their gun.

This comes from a recommendation on behalf of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

According to the city’s website, the purpose of the panel is to improve communications between the department and the community.

Greenville Police Chief Howie Thompson said the new technology is aimed at creating trust with the community.

“We want them to feel comfortable with law enforcement and know that we are doing the right thing,” Thompson said. “And try to get the right equipment to help us do the right thing.”

In a first reading on Monday, Greenville City Council unanimously agreed to reallocate $60,000 from the Law Enforcement Special Revenue Fund to buy the new Axon body cameras.

“So what the holster switch does is when an officer in a high-stress situation draws their weapon, it automatically turns on the camera,” said Thompson.

The camera also starts automatically recording when an officer activates their blue lights or unholsters their taser.

“This is just another tool that’s going to help ensure that the body warn cameras are activated and recording, especially in high-stress situations,” said Thompson.

Not only will the camera turn on for the officer involved, but any officers nearby.

“So if I, right now, drew my weapon and had the holster switch on, it would automatically turn on every camera within a 25-foot radius,” Thompson explained.

Thompson said these cameras will be given to all 209 officers within the department.

Cindy Crick is on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

“This is one of the most important situations when somebody is pulling that gun from the holster, you got to have the video,” said Crick.

And as a former prosecutor, sees the benefit. 

“There’s some distress obviously when you leave the activation of the camera in the discretion of the individual officer,” Crick said. “So this really takes it out of that realm.”

City Council will hear the ordinance’s second and final reading when they meet on March 8th.

Chief Thompson says the contract is already in place with the provider and as soon as the ordinance is approved by council, the department will order the 209 body cameras.

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