KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville Police Department has completed installation of body cameras and upgraded in-car monitoring systems. The announcement of 297 body-worn cameras and 33 in-car systems came Thursday. It comes after months of retrofitting, training, and ordering equipment.
The department first installed in-car cameras more than 20 years ago. Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas described the upgrade as having a “night and day” difference.
“The image quality, the clarity of the sound, being able now to have video inside a building, rather than just from the car and outside the building, it’s huge and our officers have been asking for this,” Thomas said.
Thomas added: “We will now have a more complete picture of an incident or a police encounter and can more thoroughly investigate citizen complaints. If we aren’t doing the right thing, this technology can help pinpoint where and how we erred so we can respond appropriately, make the necessary adjustments, and change our training…I feel that more often than not this technology will highlight the professional, respectful, and empathetic actions of our officers on a daily basis.”
The cameras automatically begin recording after certain events, like when an officer opens their door. Likewise, the rear-facing cameras are activated if the rear door is opened.
Julia Small, KPD’s Police Technology Manager, explained recording is also triggered when an officer reaches a speed greater than 85 mph or activates their flashing lights.
Cruisers are also equipped with a mobile network router, that allows the body-worn camera and two in-car cameras to synch, which Small compared to a mobile hotspot. The router also allows the video to be automatically offloaded to a secure cloud server once the video is captured.
The cameras also have a pre-record function, which adds 30 seconds of video and sound prior to being triggered.
As of last Friday, the department had already captured nearly 290,000 pieces of video, totaling nearly 67,000 gigabytes of storage.
Officers each received two hours of training on wearing the camera, maintenance, and department policies surrounding the new technology.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said “the body-worn cameras are going to be a chance for our officers’ actual work right here in Knoxville to be seen in a good, accountable, and transparent way, to showcase all the good work that is happening. When there is room for improvement, we’ll be able to see that too.”