Police In-Car Camera Test Underway

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) is only a few weeks into the testing and evaluation process of two in-car camera surveillance systems, but has already seen positive response, officials reported this week.

In-car camera surveillance is becoming increasingly prevalent in police vehicles throughout the county in an effort to provide safety to both officers and the public. The Ocean City Public Safety Group began researching the in-car camera systems in October 2007, choosing two systems to test in OCPD patrol cars. Testing and evaluation began in February with the installation of an in-car camera in one police car. The second system was installed in mid-March, in two police vehicles.

Both systems will remain in the police vehicles until May, giving officers time to test and evaluate each system.

“They have been working really hard to find the right camera system that’ll fit our needs,” said Police Chief Bernadette DiPino.

In-car cameras are mounted next to the rearview mirror and can be activated through a variety of ways. The camera is set to automatically turn on when police cars reach a certain speed and when police lights are activated. The camera can also be set to activate upon impact of a collision or when the back doors are opened. An officer can activate the camera manually from inside the car or remotely from outside of the vehicle when he or she feels necessary.

The aim of the in-car camera surveillance is to protect the safety of police officers and citizens. Citizen complaints about police officers can be reviewed though the system, providing immediate answers to any questions about the officer’s conduct, providing an unbiased account of the events. The cameras could also provide evidence in the instance that an officer is attacked or injured.

DiPino reported the success of the cameras thus far, noting three citizen complaints that were addressed and resolved in less than two hours with the aid of the camera footage, a process that would have normally taken three days of investigation.

“The feedback from the officers has been positive,” said DiPino, noting that while officers were initially nervous about being under constant surveillance, they quickly realized the benefits of the surveillance system.

Testing and evaluation will continue through May, at which point the Public Safety Group will choose a system and examine financial implications.