By: Tom Duggan – June, 2015
The Methuen police are testing new body camera equipment donated to the department as part of a pilot program. So, last month I had the opportunity to do a police ride-along in Methuen to see how well it was working out.
Riding with Officer Jeff Torrisi, we pulled over several cars on Pelham Street as Officer Torrisi explained how the cameras worked.
“One of the best features of this system is that the camera records in a buffer every 30 seconds. So, when I tap it to turn it on, we can actually get the 30 seconds of footage before I turned it on. There will be no audio, but you will be able to clearly see everything that happened that would prompt an officer to activate the camera. Those 30 seconds are critical when there’s something serious going on.”
Detective McMenamon, the officer in charge of the pilot program, says that officers are not able to erase anything on the tape once they hit record. “The video on each chip has to be downloaded in a dock here at the station, and only the official in charge has access to the passwords to view it.
“What I’ve found is that people actually act nicer once they know they are on camera,” Officer Torrisi says. “They are much more cooperative. It’s good protection for us too as police officers, because people can’t make things up anymore when they get themselves in trouble. There are still some glitches I think that have to be worked out, but overall I like them, and the other officers I’ve talked to like them as well.
Detective Mc McMenamon says that there are two different kinds of police body cameras being tested in Methuen. The camera used by Officer Torrisi during our ride along (pictured above) was a camera mounted to his eyeglasses. The other kind is a shirt-mounted camera on the chest.
“Some officers prefer the camera on the glasses because the camera sees exactly what you see,” Officer Torrisi says. It can see over the dashboard while you are driving, whereas the chest-mounted camera don’t. Also, officers who have used this in other areas have said that when they pull their weapon and extend their arms out in front, their arms obstruct the view of the chest mounted cameras.”