Earlier this year, Chief Mark Magaw ordered the Internal Affairs Division to complete an audit of all patrol cars equipped with a mobile video system. The primary goal was to determine how many of the cameras worked properly and how many didn’t. The audit took nearly one month to complete. At the audit's conclusion at the end of April, approximately 70% of our patrol fleet had fully-functional camera systems.
The PGPD has a large patrol fleet with 1,048 marked patrol cruisers. Approximately half of our cruisers are equipped with older Kustom DVD-based systems. Nearly 500 are equipped with newer hard drive-based Panasonic systems. At the time they were inspected, roughly 40 of the Panasonic systems exhibited hardware or software malfunctions. All of these malfunctions are repairable and covered under a maintenance plan. Roughly half of the Kustom systems are not working properly. The PGPD is now finalizing plans to hire a full-time technician to work solely on the Kustom camera repairs, to fix those that can be and remove those that can’t since parts for these aging systems are no longer available.
The department began installing in-car cameras in 2000. We were among the first in the nation to embrace this technology and we are among only a few agencies in the entire region to have in-car cameras. We believe these cameras provide greater transparency to our community and enhance officer safety. It was clear in the early stages of the audit that many of our older cruisers had Kustom camera equipment which far exceeded the expected 3-5 year life span. Our ultimate goal is to have 100% of patrol cruisers to have working camera systems, but due to the high cost of the newer system, and in an attempt to be fiscally responsible, the PGPD is not replacing camera systems in older cruisers that will soon be taken off line due to high mileage. In many cases, the cost of the camera would exceed the value of the car. By year’s end, the department is slated to replace older cruisers with 100 new marked cruisers that will come with new Panasonic technology.
“If a citizen sees a cruiser with a camera inside, that citizen has the expectation that the camera is working. So do we. If the camera isn’t and can’t be fixed, we are going to soon remove those broken cameras altogether. We’re devoted to constitutional, ethical and professional policing. We want our community to know we where we currently stand with our in-car camera systems and where we’re going. Every decision we make reflects our commitment to our community and officer safety,”said Chief Mark Magaw.