The Wichita Police Department no longer has vehicles that are equipped with dashboard cameras. We spoke with Wichita Police Interim Deputy Chief Gavin Seiler, who says the cameras became obsolete, and that the company that supplied the cameras and accompanying equipment is no longer in business. Seiler says that the body cameras that all Wichita police officers will be equipped with by the end of this year will replace those dashboard cameras, and be more effective.
Seiler says the body cameras that the department already has are attached to the officers’ heads, which can be more effective than placing the cameras on the officers’ chests. He also discussed the challenges of equipping all of the officers with the cameras, which includes the burden of storing the immense amount of data that 400 plus officers will compile.
In addition to obtaining the cameras, policies have to be set in place to dictate their use, and new employees may be required to manage the data and requests by the public to view the footage. Critics have questioned why officers might be permitted to turn the cameras on and off while on a shift, and Seiler points out that officers are often in hospitals, questioning people who have been injured, whether they are suspects or victims, and that HIPPA rules, which deal with a patient’s right to medical confidentiality, also have to be taken into consideration.
Officers also use restroom facilities while on duty, and these moments should obviously not be subject to camera surveillance.