After 5 years, UPD continues to see positive effects of body cameras

This semester marks the fifth anniversary since the St. Edward’s University Police Department first implemented body cameras on their officers.

In 2010, Chief of Police Rudolph Rendon decided that the use of body cameras would be helpful to both officers and the St. Edward’s community.

Five hundred dollars were spent on obtaining the cameras and the training the officers on how to use them. The money came out of the UPD’s own budget.

The body camera is a tool used to ensure the accuracy of police reports, aid in prosecution process and make sure conduct between officers and the public remain professional, Rendon said.

He also said that in the five years that have passed since the implementation, the body cameras have “proven to be an effective tool.”

Rendon mentioned a case wherein a student had accused an officer of acting inappropriately. The footage of the officer’s camera proved that the student’s claim was false.

“Body cameras protect the officer, the police department, the university and, more importantly, the campus community,” Rendon said.

Freshman Claire Sabin and sophomore Daniel Bonneau agreed. 

“A lot of discrepancies from shootings that end up in death happen from he say/she say, and sure there are cameras on the car but they don’t always catch everything, with body cameras you’re able to see everything that happens,” Sabin said.

Bonneau similarly stated, “If a student is overreacting and they [the police officers] have to do something about it, they have it all on tape as evidence.”

When asked whether there were any drawbacks to having the university’s officers carry body cameras, Bonneau said, “If a police officer is standing right next or near me and he’s recording everything I’m saying, it’s kind of an invasion of my privacy.”

Sabin also noted that the officers’ privacy may also be at risk. However, since the officers would only wear the cameras on duty, it should not pose an issue. The body cameras will serve to keep the police responsible for their actions.

Although the officers are required to carry the body cameras with them while on duty, they are not always on.

UPD’s policy states, “Officers may terminate recording at the scene of extended incidents or when no enforcement action is occurring.”

This policy may be in place due to the fact that the cameras cannot last an eight hour shift without being charged, Rendon said.

In regard to officers being able to turn the body cameras off, Sabin stated that it was okay, as long as nothing was happening. However, she does wish there was an alternative where officers would not have to turn off the cameras.

“The usefulness of body cameras has certainly been validated by recent events,” Rendon said about the recent police controversies and lack of body cameras involved.

The body cameras have proven to be helpful and will continue to be used by all of the officers working under the St. Edward’s Police Department, Rendon said.

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