SOMERVILLE, TX — The Somerville Police Department is working to be more transparent by implementing new Weapon-Mounted cameras. I got to take a look at the new technology coming to the department and what this means for the community as it relates to officers deploying their service weapon.
Somerville Police Chief, Jake Sullivan’s goal since taking the position back in October 2020 has been regaining the trust of the community. In his latest effort, the Police Department will be deploying the FACT Duty Weapon-Mounted Camera (WMC) to departments firearms.
“It gives us the opportunity to present transparency for our community another level to hold offenders accountable with additional video and an opportunity for our officers to be able to show how and why they made those decisions from a true vision perspective,” said Sullivan.
With the support from city council and the city manager's office, Somerville PD is one of nine agencies in the state of Texas that will be using these WMC. This technology provides an unobstructed view of critical use-of-force events from the end of the firearm.
“Shootings are the most important incident that happens between law enforcement and the community, and we have seen time and time again where there’s not adequate evidence from what occurred during a shooting. Why an officer had to shoot. This camera is designed specifically to capture an officer involved shooting and show what really happened during that event," said Brian Hedeen President & CEO, Viridian Weapon Technologies.
According to a Washington Post report, as July 14, 2021, 957 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year.
With the rise of officer involved shootings here in the Brazos Valley, Sullivan says the department will be transparent and release the gun cam video to the community to help them understand how and why the officer made the decision in the incident of an officer involved shooting.
“Once it goes through vetting, obviously the though the investigative process, as you know sometimes, we hold that information temporarily, but ultimately it will be released to the public as soon as possible,” said Sullivan.
Somerville PD will continue using body and dash cameras along side their new WMC.
The highly advanced WMC employs a 1080p full-HD digital camera with a microphone and 500 lumen tactical light that is automatically activated whenever the officer draws the firearm from its holster. Not only does this eliminate risk of failure to manually turn on the camera during a critical event, but it also keeps the officer from fumbling with cumbersome equipment.
“There’s three main parts of this product, one, it’s going to always turn on as soon as an officer draws his/her firearm. The second item, it’s never going to have an obstructed view when he/she is in a shooting position like a body cam can have, and three it’s inexpensive and easy for them [police departments] to implement and manage,” said Hedeen.
Viridian's product is currently being used within 70 police departments across the country.