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Fountain Police getting new body cameras after headaches with cu - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Fountain Police getting new body cameras after headaches with current system

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FOUNTAIN -

The Fountain Police Department is going to a new body-worn camera system for officers, after experiencing difficulty with its current system.  The department was one of the first to utilize body cameras in the Pikes Peak region and said over the course of a year, officers recorded about 30,000 video clips.

But half of those clips are now deleted, and the other half are being reviewed one by one as the department tries to match up the video with the incident.

The current system from Digital Ally doesn't allow for use of meta data and has a labor intensive process when it comes to docking, loading and labeling clips.

"So you could have literally several different videos from one particular incident that just keep adding up which again have to be went through, reviewed, titled, and matched up with whatever particular incident," said Fountain Police Lt. Tommy Coates.

This resulted in many officers not having time to label all of the recorded incidents, with about 70 percent of clips now in the system without titles or matching cases.

"It's growing pains, it's learning, there's been frustrations," said Coates.

The problems were discovered in a March 2016 audit of the cameras, about a year after being implemented. Police also discovered that the initial policy to delete clips after 180 days (six months) was not a sufficient amount of time, as some cases can take longer to move through the court system.

"That has since been lifted immediately once we discovered we needed to keep that footage past that date," said Coates.

The reason for the six month retention period was to save space on expensive hard drives. Coates said now they'll just have to buy more digital storage as needed.

But that also means roughly 15,000 clips are gone forever. Fountain Police estimate roughly 10 percent of the clips pertained to criminal cases that could have been used for evidence.

"The good part about it is that there's still the case report, the investigation, the follow up that the officers conducted that's on file and has been a part of that criminal proceeding," explained Coates.

While the department is sifting through the remaining 15,000 clips to label them and match them to any applicable cases, they're looking at changes to not only officers' protocol but the entire camera system.

"There's always better ways of doing things and we're working on doing that," said Coates.

Fountain Police are buying new cameras and a new system, Utility.com, that let's officers off load and label the clips automatically right after the incident. The new system will sync up directly to the dispatch service.

"I think it's going to streamline, make it much simpler and much easier for the officers in terms of time, in terms of time management, in terms of case management, it's just going to be a win win," said Coates.

Utility.com is the same body camera system the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and Colorado Springs Police Department are going to use. It will cost Fountain Police $50,000 a year and will be implemented this summer.

In the meantime, Fountain Police will continue to use the current body cameras and will not delete any more videos, in an effort to be transparent said Coates. They are also handing over any unlabeled video they find that relates to a criminal case over the District Attorney's Office.

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