The Milledgeville Police Department and GC Public Safety recently upgraded their body cameras with intentions to maximize officer and community safety.
Sgt. Gene McKinney of the Milledgeville Police Department was part of the small team that implemented the $150,000 upgrade.
“We got these newer cameras because the ones that we had before were starting to get out-of-date,” McKinney explained. “These are just way better camera systems in general.”
According to McKinney, some of the technological upgrades for the cameras include HD video quality, a wide-view lens and a microphone feature that integrates the audio from the cameras to the officer’s radios.
The cameras also include a buffer that is able to capture all video 30 seconds prior to an officer hitting the record button.
“That’s pretty important because a lot of the things we do are reactionary,” McKinney said. “The ability to be able to capture something that’s happened before [pressing] the record button is pretty paramount in evidence collection.
Though the Milledgeville Police Department and GC Public Safety work as separate entities, Sgt. Chris Hughes of GC Public Safety similarly emphasized the importance of the body camera’s ability to collect evidence.
“[GC students] should feel comfortable knowing that there’s video footage of everything that’s happening,” Hughes said.
The recent replacement of GC police body cameras took place at the end of the 2018 Spring semester and was the third upgrade in the last six years.
GC Public Safety’s new cameras cost $50,000 less than those of the Milledgeville Police Department’s, yet the enhanced features are similar with better video and audio quality. The only notable difference between the two is an integration feature on the GC police upgrade that connects officers’ body cameras to their car camera.
Sgt. McKinney explained how the high cost of the new cameras becomes less of a burden upon seeing their effectiveness in serving to protect the community.
“It’s definitely worth it,” McKinney said. “It’s going to make sure officers are acting accordingly and doing what they’re supposed to do, [while] also at the same time [protecting] officers.”
Hughes explained that safety is the main goal of GC police wearing body cameras, yet the potential for this operation to be misconceived and feared by students is always possible.
Junior Paige Medinger, a criminal justice student, was unaware of GC police wearing body cameras.
“I think it’s interesting,” Medinger said. “Many studies have found that body cameras do not change police behavior, but it could be beneficial for GC police.”
McKinney and Hughes share a hopeful outlook regarding the Milledgeville community and GC students gaining a positive view on the cameras.