Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) delayed the beginning of its trial for police body cameras until June. IMPD announced the trial in February and originally planned to start a few weeks afterward. However, IMPD received more feedback from the community than expected, which caused the delay in implementation.
During the trial, police officers will operate body cameras from different vendors for 60 days, and IUPUI will collect data from both officers and the community. Then IMPD will file a report to the mayor and the Indianapolis City-County Council about if and how they should implement a full body camera program.
In March, IMPD held six community listening sessions, one in each district, where citizens could ask questions about the trial and share their thoughts. Department officials wanted to review all the information gathered before starting the pilot program, said Aliya Wishner, chief communications officer for IMPD.
LeRoy Lewis III, chair of the Northwest Community District Council, said the three major topics during the discussion in his district were when the cameras would be on, how IMPD would store the data and the trial’s cost.
“It made me feel hopeful,” Lewis said. “It made me feel heard. I think the proof will be in the pudding on if those things come to pass, but I am hopeful that IMPD is looking to make sure their relationship with the community is a good one.”
Taking community feedback into account is not the only reason IMPD is taking time to finalize the standard operating procedure. Police Major Kendale Adams said IMPD must decide how and when to share body camera videos with the media and create the process of sharing footage with the prosecutor’s office.
“It’s not just us who is impacted by body worn cameras or even the community,” Adams said. “It’s the entire criminal justice system, so we have to get all those people on board and make sure that they are aware, and they have the proper resources to have a body worn camera be successful for them as well.”
It is too late to share thoughts at a community listening session, but concerned citizens can give their opinions in an anonymous online survey ran by IUPUI. Adams said IMPD would like African Americans to fill out the survey, so the responses create a true picture of the community.
“The survey is not going to do us any good if there’s no diversity to it,” Adams said.
Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.
Fill out the IMPD body camera survey here: iu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eXKLuWIVnSK6EoB