Next year, a little less than four years after the Dallas Police Department began issuing body cameras to its officers, all officers in the department will sport the devices as part of their uniforms, Chief U. Renee Hall said Tuesday.
"We know that body cameras are a must. Right now, we have approximately 50 percent of the officers that are on patrol outfitted with body cameras," Hall said. "Our goal, working with Axon [the company that provides DPD's cameras] is to outfit the rest of patrol. ... We're trying to get that done in the next six to nine months to make sure that every officer is outfitted, not only for their safety but because this builds trust in our community."
During a meeting of Safer Dallas Better Dallas, a nonprofit support organization for DPD, Hall said improving the department's technology, including body cameras, is one of the keys to its recruiting efforts. When Hall joined DPD nine months ago, she inherited a department facing its lowest staffing levels in more than a decade. Earlier this year, she announced a recruiting effort intended, at the very least, to stabilize the number of officers in the city.
On Tuesday, she said those efforts have been successful so far, with the department bringing on 101 new officers.
"We're seeing a lot of challenges in law enforcement, but we're making strides," Hall said. "We have a goal of [hiring] 250 [officers] for the year, but we still have time to get to those numbers. We're working diligently. The recruiting unit is out every day. We're constantly recruiting via social media, in churches, everywhere."
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In addition to the body-camera rollout, Hall announced that she hopes DPD's CopLogic platform will be open to the public in the next 90 days. CopLogic will allow Dallas residents to file reports over the internet without being at the scene of a low-priority incident.
"Some individuals may need to just make a report," Hall said, adding that with CopLogic, "they can go online and make a report. That can free up officers to respond to a higher-priority crime."
DPD body cams activate whenever an officer wearing one gets out of a squad car. To turn one off, an officer has to hold down a button for several seconds, causing the camera to emit an extended beep. Department regulations require that officers record the vast majority of interactions with the public — basically anything that's not covered by health care privacy laws.
Footage shot on the cameras is available to cops immediately via a mobile device. On that device, the body camera user can view and annotate the footage. When officers' shifts are over, they dock the cameras, and the video is uploaded to cloud storage. If it isn't part of an investigation, footage is deleted after 90 days.