Senior cop tells JSC: Bodycam batteries run down too fast

A police officer wears a body cam while on duty.
File Photo - Ayanna Kinsale
A police officer wears a body cam while on duty. File Photo - Ayanna Kinsale

The body-worn cameras provided to the police can only hold a 1.5-hour charge, which is a difficulty for them, as patrols go beyond that time.

On Wednesday afternoon, Divisional Commander, Northern Division (North) Snr Supt Miguel Montrichard raised the concern at Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security.

Montrichard recalled that as recently as Monday, he instructed all officers given cameras to wear them. He added that the duty officer in charge has to provide him with weekly reports on whether the officers are following the instruction or not.

If any officer is found not to be complying, disciplinary proceedings will be initiated.

JSC chairman and Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland noted the importance of not only wearing them, but ensuring the devices are turned on.

Montrichard expressed concern about the battery life, adding that patrols last more than an hour and a half.

“However, that is not an issue for us. I told them to put it on, let the battery run down. At least you are doing what you are supposed to do,” Montrichard said.

Commenting on the remark, Scotland highlighted that recordings from body cameras protect police against allegations of excessive force and wrongdoing.

“It is by no means novel. My respectful advice: just enforce it. When they are on their way to the site, the cameras do not have to be on, so that would not be part of the hour-and-a-half life of the battery,” Scotland said. “But when they come out of the vehicle and are in hot pursuit, the battery should be on.”

Montrichard replied, “In a perfect world, yes, respectfully. “An officer might have the presence of mind when going into an engagement to switch on a camera. Some officers do not have that presence of mind and they do not do it. “So I told them to put it on, because you do not want to use that excuse that you were too excited to put on the cameras.”

Montrichard said the administration is very high on discipline.

The head of the Eastern Division, Snr Supt Ryan Khan, said his division has 66 functional body cameras, 11 of which are at Sangre Grande police station.

He acknowledged that at times some officers resist using the cameras. He attributed that to their difficulty in adjusting to new technology and new culture.

Khan added: “The instructions are given for them to wear it. We will check to make sure the instruction is carried out. If it is not carried out, the line supervisor is required to serve the officer with a notice and we would follow the disciplinary process.”


"Senior cop tells JSC: Bodycam batteries run down too fast"

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