Local police officers start wearing body cameras three weeks before state deadline

Local police officers start wearing body cameras three weeks before state deadline

Three weeks before the state deadline, local law enforcement agencies have already implemented a new law requiring body cameras for almost all Nevada police officers.

Reno Police, Sparks Police and Washoe County Sheriff's Office deputies started wearing the body cameras Monday, giving them three weeks to work out any kinks in the system.

RPD officer Travis Warren said the cameras remain powered on for their entire shift, but officers will start the recording for citizen contacts, calls for service and investigations.

The cameras automatically save video footage of what happened in the 30 seconds before the record button was pressed.

After their shift, officers remove the cameras and dock them in a room at the police station, where they are charged and the files are transferred to the system.

Warren said the files can't be deleted, altered or tampered with. Officers have the ability to add certain information to the files like case numbers and notes.

"For us, for the officers it's nothing different."

"It doesn't change the way we serve our community. If anything, it provides video documentation of our perspective," Warren said.

The change is less of an adjustment for the Sparks Police Department, whose officers have worn body microphones and have had cameras in their patrol cars since 2014.

"We're excited to have another piece of the puzzle," SPD officer Ken Gallop said.

In Sparks, the cameras come equipped with a special feature that automatically starts a recording anytime an officer's taser is powered on.

"Another officer or supervisor can arrive on scene and simply just hit the power button to their taser and then ensure that in fact all body worn cameras (in the area) are recording," Gallop said.

The video footage will be available for 15 days and can be deleted from the system after that if no one from the community requests the footage.

Gallop said the cameras will increase transparency, but gave this caveat.

"It doesn't capture the officer's field of view 100 percent accurately, but it's better than nothing," he said.

Body cameras are required by state law after Governor Brian Sandoval signed SB 176 in 2017.

The law exempts school district police officers from needing body cameras, so no funding was allocated to school districts to buy the equipment.

A WCSD spokeswoman said the Washoe County School District has no plans to implement body camera technology in the near future.

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