/University Police Now Armed with Body Cameras
This past February, University Police at SUNY Oswego issued cameras worn center-of-chest to 17 members of the department’s Patrol Division — such as Officer Eric Martin (pictured) — following training over the winter break. The devices record law enforcement officers’ encounters with citizens, for their mutual benefit.

University Police Now Armed with Body Cameras

Video capabilities provide valuable resource for University Police; ensure public safety

By Alexander Plate

The New York State University Police Department at SUNY Oswego has had a semester to use its body cameras, and so far, the results have been positive.

After purchasing a full set of SafetyVision body cameras in January of this year, University Police Chief John Rossi says they have helped make officers’ jobs safer and given the public a sense of safety and accountability.

“The officers like it because it does increase their safety, as well as the public’s safety, when the public knows that their behavior is on camera,” Rossi said.

The cameras were purchased with department funds, according to Rossi. The Oswego County District Attorney’s office is reimbursing the department for part of the purchase with funds seized from raids on drug dealers.

The state police commissioner governs the use of body cameras by state police, and there is a detailed policy for officers to follow when using the cameras.

“We have a statewide policy that directs officers on the proper usage of the cameras, when they should be recording, and when they should not be, for privacy purposes,” Rossi said.

For example, if someone is not the subject of an investigation or an arrest, and is on private property or in their dorm room while speaking with an officer, they can ask for the camera to be turned off.

The cameras have an indicator light that glows green when recording, and officers save their contents to a central server when returning to their docking station at the end of a shift. It is not possible to delete or alter videos or photos taken with the devices, according to its product information website, and Rossi says recordings from his officers will be saved for 60 days.

Rossi said the cameras have had profound positive results in other departments, and their adoption will not slow down or stop.

“It’s something that every department will have in the near future, so we figured we may as well get on the bandwagon sooner, rather than later,” Rossi said.

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