Northville Police Soon to Be Wearing Body Cameras
(Drew Saunders, Sept. 18, 2019)
Northville, MI- Northville’s city officials are buying body cameras for their police officers and in-car cameras for the police cars to create an extra layer of protection and transparency for their police and the citizens they protect.
“It’s about the transparency and having an objective record of interactions between our officers and individuals who they have interactions with,” Northville Mayor Ken Roth told the Oakland County Times, adding, “I think it’s a nice achievement for a department our size.”
City Manager Pat Sullivan said that there haven’t been any serious complaints about officer behavior. He said the complaints they do have are usually questions around “a drunk driving arrest” where the defense attorney could question whether an officer had just cause to arrest the defendant. “This will help with that, because we’ll have even more documented evidence of what happens on a scene,” Sullivan said.
The $64,233 investment in both systems was accompanied by an Intel Server System P4300CW and related software for $6,333. The city also invested $2,661 in a video backup device, $4,014 in a processor for the system and $2,532 on software to run the system.
The Michigan Municipal Risk Management Association is going to contribute $1,000 for each car camera system, according to the city, “with potential additional MMRMA grants for the body worn cameras and severs.
How long police footage will be stored will depend on the category. Traffic stops for instance, will be kept for 90 days unless there is an arrest and ongoing case. Other arrests have different retention periods depending on the circumstances.
Michigan state law established in 2017 that people are entitled to a certain amount of privacy if they interact with an officer wearing a body camera. The information is immune from release under the Freedom of Information Act if people or personal property property are depicted in the recording. Citizens can obtain a copy of footage if it includes them, if they are a parent or legal guardian of someone captured in the footage, or if they give permission for an attorney to see the recording. The police can also withhold the footage if it could interfere with an investigation, complicate an alleged criminal’s right to a fair trial, or endanger someone.
The act also mandates law enforcement agencies keep footage involved in a complaint against an officer or law enforcement agency be kept for at least three years. Footage used as evidence in an ongoing case will be kept until the end of the trial, per state law.
The camera system is currently going through a testing phase, and the city has not yet taken delivery. Integrating cameras into the patrol cars will be a lengthier process. Northville Police Chief Alan Maciag said that so far, he had only received positive reactions from his officers.
The city is expecting to have cameras for all 13 of its officers and its half-dozen police cars by late September, or early October.