More than a decade ago, the game wardens in Georgia’s woodlands and waterways started wearing body cameras.
“We felt like it was important that we get into the 21st century and be able to store (footage) easily, almost effortlessly by the officers, and be able to manage the videos without a lot of effort either,” said Department of Natural Resources Maj. Stephen Adams
Adams said the department, which has 212 game wardens, has recently moved to a more reliable system run through the officer’s smartphone. The law enforcement division purchased Kyocera DuraForce PRO 2 ruggedized smartphones, which are used in conjunction with the cloud-based camera application, Visual Labs.
Roughly 20 minutes after a recording, Adams said the footage is available to the credentialed members of the department to examine.
“Once the officer stops recording, there’s no way for them to stop that process for it go into the cloud. The security of the video is important to us as well,” Adams said.
Officers previously carried both a state-issued cellphone and a body-worn camera, so the move has eliminated one piece of equipment to carry, Adams said. Rather than purchasing camera equipment from an agency, DNR is paying for the video software.
“If an officer drops one of the other cameras into the lake … and it goes to the bottom of the lake, we have to purchase another camera or we have to pay for an expensive protection plan,” Adams said.
The plan costs roughly $40 per month per officer that has a camera.
Adams said the current contract DNR has with its cellphone provider allows for a replacement or upgrade at no charge almost annually.
The camera has to be manually turned on, though there is a remote trigger capability by the supervisor if needed, Adams said.
“We have always understood the benefits of body cameras, both from our own perspective and that of the general public,” Col. Thomas Barnard said in a news release. “It was time to upgrade the technology we used and we put it to the test right away.”
The department had a chance to try out the new body camera setup while in downtown Atlanta and elsewhere “assisting other law enforcement agencies during recent protests,” according to a news release.
“We used the livestreaming feature of the body cameras to see exactly what was happening on the ground and to know where our wardens were in real time. It was a great asset to have both for public and officer safety,” Barnard said.