New WPD body cameras offer better vantage point for officer interactions

New WPD body cameras offer better vantage point for officer interactions
The Wilmington Police Department is upgrading officer body cameras for a better view of officer interactions with the public.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington Police Department is upgrading officer body cameras for a better view of officer interactions with the public.

WPD purchased Axon cameras for about half of the department's officers several months ago, and hopes to outfit the entire department with the cameras soon.

Officer Kevin Piner said the upgrade means a number of improved features, including better battery life and a better vantage point for video.

"It was important to us to use the best technology out there," Piner said. "We've been through several cameras that have done OK, but they get some age on them, and we just felt like it was time to look toward the future."

According to Piner, the new cameras can be worn at different heights on an officer's uniform, which offers a better vantage point in case an officer needs to use their Taser or gun.

"The officer has the ability to wear it anywhere he would prefer on his uniform," Piner said. "Basically, one side of the magnet goes behind the officer's shirt, and the other comes in, and it's a pretty durable magnet."

Piner also said the new Axon cameras have a 30-second pre-roll feature that could capture an incident even if the officer wasn't actively recording at the time.

"If something was to happen while the officer has not manually activated the camera, when he does manually activate it, it will get the 30 seconds prior," he said.

Piner added the cameras can sync to show other footage taken during the same incident. He said officers can now upload their footage from the field rather than having to return to the station first.

"There's other options as well. You can set up WiFi hotspots around the city, where the officers could go and that would come in handy in a major incident," Piner said. "We need to get video as quick as possible. We don't want officers having to come back to the station or whatnot. We could set up a hotspot and get these things uploaded."

We are still waiting to hear back from the department about the total cost of the cameras.

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