Grantsville City Police are taking their dashboard cameras out of their cars and onto the streets in effort to better protect the public and themselves.
Officers are now equipped with wearable cameras that function much the same as the standard dash-mounted cameras, but at a fraction of the cost for a more user-friendly product, said Lt. Steve Barrett of the Grantsville City Police Department.
“Dash cams run us about $5,000 each, and they have some downtime,” he said. “These run us between $850 and $1,000, so for the price of one we can get five of them.”
The Wolfcom 3rd Eye cameras, which can be mounted on the dash as well as be worn on the body, have a 120-degree shooting angle with high-definition 1080 resolution and record audio.
They can also shoot stills, function as a voice recorder and double as the vocal input for officers’ radios, in addition to marking each recording and picture with GPS coordinates. Each officer’s camera has its own serial number, making officer-specific video easier to find and identify.
The camera’s battery is good for 17 hours between charges. If it needs emergency recharging it can be hooked into a patrol car’s cigarette lighter. Information captured by the device can be downloaded onto an external hard drive, which can then be locked up for evidence.
Barrett said the video from the cameras can be immediately viewed on a television, which could be useful in situations where an officer is trying to get a warrant for a suspect’s home or car, or when the officer is trying to relay specifics of a situation to incident command.
Barrett said he and Officer Morgan Swensen looked at several different models of wearable law enforcement cameras before choosing the Wolfcom 3rd Eye model. Swensen said he found the model, which he has tested for about a month, to be less cumbersome than other models, including the brand officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department recently began wearing.
“This one seems to be more efficient and downloading it seems to be more user friendly,” he said. “It’s not bulky, there’s not excessive wires, there’s nothing extra you have to carry around.”
With the almost $9,000 total cost covered by funds from the Utah Commission on Crime and Juvenile Justice, and the department’s annual helping of state alcohol commission money, the 10 cameras went live Friday afternoon.
Barrett said introducing the cameras into the department helps keep both officers and members of the community safe by providing a more objective and accurate record of stops and encounters than was available before.
“I get a lot of complaints on officers where people say, ‘Well, they did this.’ Here, I can literally pull [the video] and review the whole stop and say, ‘This is what happened,’” said Barrett. “It keeps both sides on the up and up. If you have an officer not doing what he’s supposed to, you know that, too.”
Grantsville police are the first in the county to use body cameras versus dash cameras, and one of the first in the state. Barrett said other local agencies have also expressed interest in the devices. So far they have lived up to expectations.
“For us, so far, it’s worked out very well,” he said.