BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) – With most officers currently equipped with the technology, body camera could soon be worn by all officers on patrol in the Magic City.
The Birmingham City Council has taken preliminary steps to explore camera upgrades for existing technology while adding more cameras to outfit the day shift patrol officers. Currently, afternoon and night shift officers are the only ones wearing body cams.
“It’s a great tool that helps us stay out of trouble. Because if it’s on the camera, it’s there,” said Officer Shawn Rankin, who’s been a Birmingham Police Officer for 3 years after spending over 2 decades at another local department.
Birmingham Police Department has over 300 cameras in use right now. The cameras are manually started and stopped by the officers whenever they have an interaction with the public. The footage is then stored and logged into a system that matches the video to the officer and the specific interaction. The cameras are magnetically attached to the front of the uniform and worn throughout the shift.
Heath Boackle is the President of the Birmingham Fraternal Order of Police, and he thinks it’s long past due that every large police department take steps to issue these cameras to their personnel.
“Every department should be issuing those for their officers. Not only that, for the officer’s safety,” he said.
“It keeps you grounded,” Officer Rankin added. “When you realize you’ve got a camera rolling, whether they have a camera rolling or not, you’re going to keep your attitude and your tongue in check where you may not do so otherwise.”
The Birmingham City Council approved a consent agenda at a meeting in early July that included a measure to support the upgrading and purchasing of body cameras. That effort is still ongoing.