APD body cam proposal includes GPS tracking

@fortworthpd image from an officer wearing a body-camera. The agency has used them since 2014. (Fort Worth PD)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin police officers could be tracked in real-time via their body-worn cameras a new Request for Proposals (RFP) issued Monday shows. The technological item is on a list of ‘desired’ but non-mandatory items city staff included in the long-awaited RFP – 

Other non-mandatory items include a body camera system that can:

  • operate on a battery for 12 hours continuously (the length of an APD patrol officer’s shift)
  • record and store video for 10 hours continuously
  • mute the audio portion while still recording video
  • allow staff to review the video before it is offloaded
  • provide cables that ‘break away’ to prevent the user from becoming entangled

APD is also hoping the winning vendor has a product that can integrate with existing in-car dash or interview room camera systems, integrate with APD’s existing computer-aided dispatch so the video recordings can be linked to case numbers, locations and officer ID and wirelessly offload video to storage.

Monday’s RFP is the culmination of years of pilot projects, community consultation and planning. The winning bidder will have to satisfy a list of technical requirements, most mandatory before receiving the multi-year contract worth upwards of $19 million.

KXAN has already reported a number of the elements that have to be a part of any winning bid – mandatory technology to prove recordings have been unedited and software that can redact portions of recordings released to the public to protect witnesses, informants or juveniles.

Other must-haves include a system that will:

  • encrypt data from end-to-end so the vendor/service provider cannot access video
  • identify the officer or user via metadata on the recordings
  • disallow anyone from editing, deleting or overriding recordings (even inadvertently)
  • automatically trigger when a car-door is opened, siren activates etc.
  • allow pre-event recording capacity

The RFP also mandates the selected camera system be able to log all recordings, deletions, and edits (e.g. where a portion of a recording is needed for an Open Records request).

As well, the system must be able to produce a report or log indicating which videos have been destroyed, when and who did the deleting. A proposed timeline is 90 days for those recordings not needed for evidence purposes.

Last Monday, APD held a public forum for last-minute feedback where concerns of officer accountability came up. The RFP appears to address major issues with citizen privacy and an officer’s ability to delete video.

The deadline for vendors to file their proposals is Jan 15. The RFP documents show a choice is expected after a review period after Feb 15th with approval sought from full council in May, 2016. Last winter, a request for Information generated responses from 17 vendors.

The Austin Police Department is the last big law enforcement agency in Texas to outfit their officers with body cameras. City council has budgeted $2.6 million this year to get the cameras on 500 officers by summer.

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