Somerville police hope to be more transparent; implement cameras mounted on weapons
SOMERVILLE, TX – The Somerville Police Department is working to be more transparent by implementing new gun-mounted cameras. I got to take a look at the new technology coming to the department and what it means for the community in regards to the officers who deploy their service weapon.
Somerville Police Chief, Jake Sullivan’s goal since taking office in October 2020 has been to regain the trust of the community. In its latest effort, the police department will deploy the FACT Duty Weapon Mounted Camera (WMC) on service firearms.
“This gives us the opportunity to present transparency for our community to another level to hold offenders accountable with additional video and an opportunity for our officers to be able to show how and why they made these decisions from a point of view. real, ”Sullivan said.
With the support of city council and the city manager’s office, Somerville PD is one of nine agencies in the state of Texas that will use these WMCs. This technology provides an unobstructed view of critical use-of-force events since the end of the firearm.
“The shootings are the single most important incident that takes place between law enforcement and the community, and we have seen time and time again that there was insufficient evidence of what happened during of a shootout. Why an officer had to shoot. This camera is specially designed to capture an officer involved in a shooting and show what really happened during that event, ”said Brian Hedeen, President and CEO of Viridian Weapon Technologies.
According to a Washington Post report, as of July 14, 2021, 957 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year.
With the increase in fire from officers involved here in the Brazos Valley, Sullivan says the department will be transparent and will release the gun camera video to the community to help them understand how and why the officer has made the decision in the incident of an officer involved by shooting.
“Once it’s sifted through, obviously during the investigative process, as you sometimes know, we keep this information temporarily, but ultimately it will be made public as soon as possible,” Sullivan said.
Somerville PD will continue to use body and dash cameras alongside its new WMC.
The highly advanced WMC uses a Full HD 1080p digital camera with a microphone and a 500 lumen tactical light that automatically activates whenever the officer takes the firearm out of its holster. Not only does this eliminate the risk of not manually turning on the camera during a critical event, it also prevents the agent from fumbling with bulky equipment.
“There are three main parts of this product, one, it will always light up as soon as an officer pulls out his firearm. The second item, there will never be obstructed view when in a shooting position like a body camera can have, and three, it is inexpensive and easy for them [police departments] to implement and manage, ”Hedeen said.
Viridian’s product is currently in use in 70 police departments across the country.