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The DeKalb County Police Department will receive approximately 200 body cameras for officers. DeKalb officials and Utility Associates announced the partnership in July of 2016. File photo

DeKalb orders 200 ‘high-tech’ body cams

Each officer and detective in the DeKalb County Police Department (DKPD) will be fitted with state-of-the-art equipment after DeKalb officials approved the purchase of approximately 200 body purchases.

According to DKPD Police Chief James Conroy, the purchase will allow the department to provide all officers and detectives body cameras.

The body cameras, provided by Decatur-based Utility Associates, Inc., are top of the line, Conroy said.

“I’m excited about these cameras,” Conroy said. “They’re scalable, they’re upgradable and the company we purchase from is a DeKalb County company and they like to keep us happy. We like to be guinea pigs for some of the new technology they’re testing.”

According to Utility Associates, the BodyWorn technology is the most advanced police body camera on the market. Using artificial intelligence to create situational awareness.

Conroy said that the cameras will automatically alert fellow officers in the event of an “officer down” situation. The cameras are also designed to detect gunshots and will start recording automatically if shots are fired. The video will recall two minutes of audio and video prior to the incident and send a call for help along with the officer’s location.

“If an officer forgets to record, the gunshot detection is pretty powerful and will automatically begin recording. The [system] can tell you who fired first and what caliber weapon was used,” Conroy said.

Conroy said the department plans on making a few adjustments to the system for officer’s safety and accountability.

Conroy said upgrades will include updating the department’s Computer Aided Dispatch [CAD] system.

“Turning on the cameras is one of our challenges,” Conroy said. “With the new CAD system we’re already working on the technology so if you get a call once you’re within 100 yards of the [dispatched area], the cameras will automatically activate, which is wonderful.”

In January, a grand jury charged DeKalb police officer Robert Olsen with two counts each of murder and violating oath of an office. Olsen shot and killed a mentally ill unarmed veteran. Olsen was not equipped with a body camera. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In June, a video of a DeKalb County police officer striking a homeless woman with a baton went viral. According to sources, the officer, P.J. Larscheid, did not activate his body camera.

“This [purchase] will outfit our entire department with body cams and a little extra for spares,” Conroy said. “This will allow us to outfit the officers that didn’t have [body cams] before because we didn’t have enough at the time.”

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