BOZEMAN - Currently the Bozeman Police Department and the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office have only the ability to record video in patrol cars but that will soon change with the addition of body-worn cameras.
“There have been a lot of citizens that already thought we had body-worn cameras and that just shows that it's time to have body-worn cameras,” says Bozeman Police Chief Jim Veltkamp.
Bozeman officers will soon be wearing Body Worn Cameras, and the department finalized policies that will serve as rules for the department.
“(We're) Actually implementing the body-worn cameras right around the end of the summer,” says Veltkamp.
Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office will follow suit but they say supply chain issues have delayed their shipment of cameras they aim to give deputies wearing cameras by the end of the year.
“Once we get all of the equipment then we can actually get the training schedule which we were hoping to have done by the end of August and then based on how that goes and how the equipment we can be looking at a roll-out after that,” says Gallatin County Undersheriff Jeremy Kopp.
With input from the community, the Bozeman Police Department released a 6-page policy draft. The draft covers a wide range of topics ranging from when and where officers will record, to when not to record, and cover how recordings will be released. Chief Veltkamp says drafting the policy was about finding a balance.
“The duty to document and record exactly what happened on every call in part for court as evidence but additionally the second half is making sure that we are respecting people's right to privacy,” says Veltkamp.
The technology in both departments will work alongside the dash cameras in patrol vehicles.
“We don’t want to rush the training piece because everything is linked to another the cameras in the car are linked to the cameras on the body and all of that is synced to all of the actual buildings themselves,” says Kopp
For both departments building a stronger sense of community remains at the forefront.
“Body-worn cameras are going to provide a wide variety of benefits and one of those is transparency,” says Veltkamp.
“This is just another tool that supports the relationship with the community,” says Kopp.
A link to Bozeman Police Department’s Policy Draft can be found on Engage Bozeman.