Mandurah’s top cop welcomes body camera roll out

Mandurah’s top cop has welcomed a planned roll out of body cameras for officers throughout the state. 

Mandurah Police Station officer in charge Senior Sergeant Darren Hart said while the initiative wouldn’t be implemented in the Peel straight away, it would be an asset for his team in the future. 

The plan form part of the Western Australian Police Force’s new “Digital Policing Program” that seeks to capitalise on software for its frontline officers. 

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On Thursday, WA Police commissioner Chris Dawson revealed the first phase would see 200 cameras deployed within the Perth District by early 2019.

“We will commence the tender process next month, seeking a ‘full service’ provider to deliver cameras and digital evidence software solutions for frontline officers,” Mr Dawson said.

“Body-worn cameras are now commonly used in other policing jurisdictions, with potential benefits including improved evidence gathering and a greater opportunity to capture the whole of an incident rather than rely on piecemeal recordings.”

While Senior Sergeant Hart hasn’t had the opportunity to wear a body camera himself, he said it could benefit local policing operations. 

“In situations over the years, it’s clear body-worn video would have been useful,” he said. 

He said the initiative would place the need for officers to remain professional front of mind. 

Commissioner Dawson said the Digital Policing Program had the potential to improve efficiencies and maximise opportunities for police. 

A further 450 cameras are planned for Traffic Enforcement Group and Goldfields-Esperance and Pilbara Districts by mid-2019, building up to a full complement of 3,500 users across the state by the end of 2021.

A six-month trial of body-worn cameras was conducted in Perth and Bunbury in 2016, and the results of that trial helped inform the pending roll-out of these devices.

“Feedback from our officers was quite positive, with 83 percent of those surveyed agreeing the cameras improved their ability to gather evidence and take accurate statements,” he said.

Follow Caitlyn Rintoul on Twitter via @caitlynrintoul.