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Odd Fellows Donation Helps Urbandale Police Department Get WOLFCOM® Police Body Cameras

   

URBANDALE, IA – The Urbandale Police Department recently ordered 24 WOLFCOM VISION police body Cameras. In May of 2015, The Independent Order Of Odd Fellows Grand Lodge Of Iowa donated $14 thousand dollars to the department for the purchase of the body cameras which helped them outfit half their officers. The department has registered on bodycameradonations.com for 24 more body cameras for the rest of the force.

“We at WOLFCOM are inspired by community donations to police departments. We salute the Odd Fellows generous donation. Stories like this one inspired us to create bodycameradonations.com, which allows community groups and citizens to help outfit their local police departments with body cameras. We believe every police officer should have a body camera and we hope this website will help make that goal a reality.” said WOLFCOM Founder Peter Austin Onruang.

Chief Ross McCarty of the Urbandale Police Department says the donation helped the department launch its body camera program a year before they planned. “The Odd Fellows are an organization that has their state headquarters in our city for a number of years but we really never had a relationship with them… we don’t go out and seek donations but they had come to us saying that they saw all of the recent press issues about police body cameras and the cost and they wanted to help defray that cost and through the process they ended up bringing us fourteen thousand dollars for us, combined with some of our assets, we were able to get up and running by July 1st of this year,” said McCarty.

 Grand Secretary Lawrence Shilling of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Grand Lodge of Iowa says his organization made the donation to benefit the entire community in the wake of recent events in the news involving police involved shootings across the country. “Cops have been getting so much bad news coverage lately and many of them don’t have the proof of if their actions were right or wrong. We wanted to do something to help police clear themselves and prove what happened. Body cameras help clear up any questions about what happened in these situations. We had some money left over and called the chief to ask if the department would be interested in a donation for police body cameras,” said Shilling.

“The Odd Fellows goal is to help our community and this is one of the projects we took on. It’s [the body camera donation] good for our community, it lets the community know what’s going on…this way there is video proof either way of what happened,” said Shilling. “We were actually looking at going through the process of getting our policies up to date about a year before all this and getting the money figured out and in place and Ferguson sort of accelerated all those needs. We wanted to be a transparent department and showing video of what our officers do is one way we can do that transparency. And we’re proud of the work our officers do and it just gives us that way of proving to the public and ourselves that accountability level that you cannot have without body camera video,” said McCarty. “With the Odd Fellows Donation we were able to move to July 1st 2015 implementation of the cameras but without that, we would have still been waiting to go to July of 2016 so that donation allowed us to put the cameras out a year earlier then we would have been able to do on our own financing, so that’s huge,” said McCarty.

“We’ve run in car cameras for over two decades now, so we didn’t have to push the officers to go to body cameras, they realized the value of having those cameras with them and we’ve had three or four internal affairs complaints we were able to clear just by looking at the footage to know that our officers did everything they should have and how they were doing it and we’re proud of their work and I haven’t seen anything where we had to take any serious corrective action from the video that’s been recorded,” said McCarty. 

“We’re very happy with the product. We like the realistic video feedback that we got. Some of the other body camera models from different manufacturers gave us a sort of fish eye look to the playback which we didn’t really care for. The officers like the fact that you can turn off the alert lights in canceled areas…The police officers like the weight, it’s a very light camera. They like the fact that (with the battery packs) you can get about six hours of burn time on the camera before it needs to be recharged. We have it now where it will sync in with our car cameras so we can charge it in a docking station in the car. They like the quality of the playback and the ease of book marking, getting back and pulling the evidence for cases,” said McCarty.

“Storage is an issue. We went out and purchased a 72 terabyte server and we think we’re going to be adequate for storage. Officers are burning about an hour and a half of video a day out of an eight hour shift and we just extrapolated that out so we’re pretty good on storage. We decided to go in house instead of going with the cloud so we could maintain custody and control of our video evidence. If we ever had a dispute with a cloud based vendor, we don’t know if we’d get all of our video evidence back,” said McCarty.

“It’s been a good addition for us and the public. What we have seen that we weren’t really prepared for were the amount of people who want our video footage for civil issues and not necessarily criminal replays and we’ve answered some of those through open records and others we’re protecting the privacy of citizens that we recorded in their houses,” said McCarty.