JBER defenders integrate high-tech body cameras into operations

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Crystal A. Jenkins
  • 673 ABW/PA

The 673d Security Forces Squadron integrates 60 new, high-tech body cameras into daily operations Jan. 10, 2021 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

As these small, sleek cameras have continued to evolve, they have come to be a familiar staple for several occupations and for countless reasons. In the case of JBER’s defenders, the adaptable technology reached a point of not only being a reliable safety and training instrument, but a multifunctional accountability tool serving all. 

“As officers and defenders we want to build confidence with the community we police and serve, we aren’t here to ruin people’s days and we know what getting things wrong can do,” said Department of Defense Police Officer Richard Martinez, with the 673d SFS. “Although we are thoroughly trained to gather information quickly, we are still human. We are dealing with time and facts that have the potential to alter people’s lives and we are always looking for ways to rule out this kind of uncertainty. Our hope is that by having each situation recorded they know we are held accountable too.”

Another aspect of accountability is how people react to the physical presence of a camera.

“We noticed with our old body cameras that when dealing with the subject or person we were helping in a situation or on a call, they would see the camera and were more likely to respond differently because they knew they were being recorded,” said Martinez. “On the other side of that, it also holds officers accountable for their behavior as well.” 

In addition to increased accountability, writing reports after a full and long shift can be challenging. With the immediate playback feature, defenders can now ensure timely and accurate reporting.

“Compared to the old system, this new type of body camera helps a lot when it comes to writing reliable reports,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kelly Griffith, 673 SFS patrolman. “The old ones had to be uploaded and then viewed and released taking anywhere from four to twenty-four hours or more. Now, with the push of a button, we can immediately go over the footage and document what was said and done.” 

Closely following reliability and accountability, the new camera features also serve as an effective training tool, as the recorded footage can be used immediately or built into training programs later. 

“We can pull the videos, watch them for lessons learned, and then put them into training scenarios so everyone can experience what you just went through, what happened, what was said and what was done,” said Martinez. “Or, if there is a major incident, we can put it out to the flights for their next training day which gives us the chance to relay that experience of what was done correctly and what could be done differently.” 

Training is vital to building confidence, but with the wearer’s safety in mind, the new body cameras also come equipped with GPS and a live feed option that can be activated by the officer or the command section at any time. 

“For me, having the ability to just press the SOS button if something were to happen on a call means dispatch/Base Defense Operations Center will have live feed of whatever the situation is immediately and can react accordingly,” said Martinez. “From the cradle to the grave in every situation, the new cameras give us complete timestamped review and that in and of itself should boost everyone’s confidence.”