DES MOINES, Iowa -- After more than 18 months of discussion and planning, on Tuesday the Des Moines Police Department announced the addition of body cameras to its force.
By the end of March, the department's 300 officers will wear the cameras. A handful of patrol officers have already been outfitted with the devices.
Of the $1.6 million new addition, $700,000 of it was paid for with the help of federal grants. Another $580,000 came from private contributions. The remaining funds were divvied up between drug forfeitures and city funds. Chief Dana Wingert said the financial investment will be a community-wide payoff.
"Certainly there is an impact to the Des Moines Police Department, but in the same there is an equal impact to the community."
The department also purchased new in-car cameras. The dual-camera device will feature both a panoramic and standard view range camera. Along with the police body worn cameras, the dual-camera will be synced together when played back on a monitor. Officers say that feature will help offer a broad perspective of what happens during incidents.
A policy drafted by the department requires officers to wear the cameras either on their belts or shirts during their shifts. Officers will record on nearly every incident they come across, except for when interviewing victims of sexual assault or child abuse and discussing charges against a suspect.
Wingert said drafting the policy was a lengthy part of the unveiling process.
"Keep in mind we are not in the entertainment business. That's why there are some digressions worked into this policy in those sensitive areas, to allow officers to make the decision about if this should be recorded," he said.
Once the video is recorded, it will be stored in the department's on-site servers. Depending on the type of incident recorded, the length of time it is stored will vary. For example, a video from a traffic stop will be stored for up to one year. A homicide or suspicious death investigation video will be stored for at least 25 years.
The department says its goal in using the cameras is not only to capture evidence, but also to build stronger trust and transparency in the community.
"We hope that this will help reduce complaints and litigation. We will have impartial witnesses to everything that goes on. All interactions with officers and citizens," says Sgt. Ryan Doty.
Click here to view the Department's body camera policy.
The Clive, Johnston, Urbandale, Pleasant Hill, and Waukee Police Departments currently use body cameras.