Camera technology protecting community, officers

Published 1:25 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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In a world where everything comes under scrutiny especially as everyone now carries cameras with them everywhere they go on their cell phones, the need for police departments to stay atop technology has never been so critical.

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The Elizabethton Police Department is one of the departments across the country that has integrated cameras in all phases of their everyday work life from the body worn cameras they wear on shift to the cameras that film each interrogation that is conducted at the department.

With the use of the cameras, not only are the police officers themselves protected from false claims but the community is as well as each event is recorded to be reviewed later.

It is important to take a look at the positives that the cameras have brought to the EPD.

Body Worn Cameras

One of the most important areas that a body worn camera brings to the department is transparency – as with everything being recorded, the details of each officer-citizen interaction can be reviewed including any complaints from the citizens which makes investigating a claim much easier.

“I believe that it’s important in today’s society for the public to have record of all the positive encounters that law enforcement have with the community,” said Sgt. David Johnson. “It shows that we as an agency aren’t hiding anything from our community and displays the professionalism that we strive to have each day as public servants.”

Also, the video from the cameras can assist in training as well as document and corroborate evidence as the video captured can be used as evidence in arrest and prosecutions.

“The ability the body worn cameras possess with documenting evidence is in my opinion one of the most beneficial reasons for deployment,” said Johnson. “We can review the footage and help identify individuals, analyze encounters, and evaluate interviews. They have shown to be successful for our agency in use of force situations, DUI investigations, intoxicated subjects’ investigations, and domestic call situations.”

The body worn cameras, in-car, and interview cameras are all on the same system which brings consistency. In-car camera systems and body-worn cameras are synchronized.

Each officer is equipped with a body-worn camera.

Interview Room Cameras

Having the ability to have both body-worn cameras, interview room cameras, and in-car systems synced all together has made it much easier to maintain and share video footage with the District Attorney’s Office.

“As a supervisor, it is necessary to find the video in a timely manner and to be able to access them systematically,” Johnson said. “Appreciatively, the systems make it easy to do. I can search the video by date, officer, or device.”

The interview room recording system was purchased with funds awarded through the Rural Violence Crime Reduction Grant (RVCRI).

“The Rural Violent Crime Reduction Initiative (RVCRI) is an effort, funded by the Bureau of Justice (BJA) to provide funding and assistance to rural law enforcement agencies seeking to reduce violent crime and address problems associated with violent crime,” according to the RVCRI website (

“Funding and support are available for implementing violent crime reduction strategies, improving investigations, improving services to victims, and for enhancing collaboration between local stakeholders.”

Each month, the EPD meets with the BJA RVCRI team which consists of the following individuals:

  • Samantha Rhinerson, Program Manager for the RVCRI Grant, with the National Policing Institute.
  • Reginald Thomas, Project Associate for the RVCRI Grant, with the National Policing Institute.
  • Harold Medlock, Retired Chief of Police and Consultant, for the National Policing Institute.

“The project team helps us implement the program,” said EPD Captain Elonza Perkins. “We discuss implementation progress and how the program is actually working. The Project Team has really been wonderful to work with and are extremely helpful.”