Shepparton police equipped with personal body cameras

By Madeleine Caccianiga

Officers policing the Shepparton district’s streets will be equipped with personal body cameras as of this week.

Deployment of the powerful new crime-fighting tools means every interaction between police and the public will be recorded and available for use in crime detection and as evidence tendered to court.

Local area commander Inspector Troy Hargadon said the cameras should act as a powerful deterrent to those contemplating criminal activity in the presence of police.

‘‘Unfortunately, there’s a trend where we see police as objects or targets towards some criminality and people wanting to hurt or injure,’’ Insp Hargadon said.

‘‘This is another great opportunity for us to provide some safety mechanisms to our staff.’’

The cameras will also improve public safety and public confidence in police, according to Insp Hargadon.

‘‘It’s an opportunity for us to enhance our safety, the communities’ safety and will lead to greater outcomes for people, such as our vulnerable groups and victims and witnesses of crime,’’ he said.

The cameras will be constantly operating and are able to ‘‘back-capture’’ and store recorded instances at the discretion of a police officer.

‘‘There’s a mechanism in the camera that is activated by the member,’’ Insp Hargadon said.

‘‘Once it’s issued at the start of the day, at the start of a shift, the camera is activated.

‘‘It works and it runs until such a time as there is a need to activate the recording mechanism, which then back-captures a period of time prior to being activated and continues until such time it is turned off by the member.’’

The cameras can also transmit a live stream to other devices, but will not be used to keep police themselves under surveillance.

‘‘The object of this is not to monitor our staff,’’ Insp Hargadon said.

‘‘I’ve got full faith and confidence in my members that they are performing their role professionally and diligently every day.

‘‘This is about enhancing the safety for our community.’’

First Constable Simon Bingham said the new body cameras would increase police confidence and the confidence of the community in police.

‘‘I think it will be fantastic... for members to utilise when speaking with members of the community,’’ he said.

‘‘It’ll assist victims and witnesses in the way we service them (and) it will just ensure that we remain professional in our daily approach to policing.’’

Victoria Police plans on rolling out 11000 cameras to their own members, as well as protective services officers, by 2020.

This week saw the cameras deployed to Dookie, Mooroopna, Murchison, Shepparton and Tatura police stations.