The Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) has completed the training and roll-out of body-worn video (BWV) units to all its on-the-ground public safety officers in time for the festive season.
The decision was taken after a nine-officer pilot project, run during last year’s festive season, proved to be a success in modifying the behaviour of both members of the public and the CCID’s own officers.
According to CCID safety and security manager Muneeb Hendricks, the BWV units are now carried by all on-duty officers.
“We have purchased 85 units in total and currently use 81 of these to equip the officers, who are on duty 24/7 during a normal deployment.
“Each one of our officers has been fully trained to operate his or her unit effectively and efficiently, and we have units on standby should one go down at any time.”
He said training had been done at the CCID’s facility in the city centre, with each officer being taught the operation and capabilities of the unit, including the different shooting modes, for example, video mode, voice recording, infra-red or after-dark recording, and stills camera functionality.
The officers have also been trained to assess the path of the laser guide, which shows where the camera is pointing, to ensure an optimal camera angle, and how to describe what is being filmed.
The CCID will also be deploying extra officers during the festive season to cope with the influx of visitors. These officers will also be equipped with BWV units and trained before deployment.
However, the cameras themselves are only part of the crime-fighting initiative.
The CCID also has a digital evidence management system to enable all footage from incidents to be stored in case it is needed for evidence. Mr Hendricks said they have also trained three managers, to familiarise them with the system.
The CEO of the CCID, Tasso Evangelinos, said the administrator of the system could delete footage, not the officer carrying the unit.
Therefore, if an officer misbehaves while on duty, that officer cannot delete the footage of the incident.”
Mr Hendricks said that they have a continual 30 second roll-up, which means they will already be running for 30 seconds before the guard presses the record button, capturing the initial scenario that would have caught the officer’s attention.
He said it is at the discretion of the officer whether or not to record if he or she sees an incident unfolding. “It is his or her standard operating procedure to start recording as soon as he or she feels any incident is unfolding and if that is not done, the officer will undergo disciplinary action. If a failure to record happens repeatedly, it could result in the termination of that officers’ employment with the CCID.”
Mr Evangelinos said all footage from an incident in which an investigation had been launched was permanently stored on the server, while all other footage was kept for 30 days.
“If, after that time, we receive no enquires regarding an incident that has been recorded, then the footage for that incident will be cleaned off the hard drive by the administrators,” he said.
The footage will always be made available in criminal cases as required and it will always be available to the City of Cape Town law enforcement agencies and the South African Police.”
The Cape Town Central police spokesman, Captain Ezra October, said equipment such as the BWV units help in the fight against crime in the city bowl.
“It can assist in complaints such as physical assault or a car accident, to establish, through the footage, what actually occurred. Now that every CCID guard is carrying such a device, hopefully the technology can assist the police with evidence to get more guilty verdicts in court.”
The Cape Town Central community police forum (CPF) chairwoman, Nicola Jowell, said: “We are very pleased to see yet another tool being added to the members of the CCID who are encountering and reacting to crime each and every day. It is testament to the proactive and dedicated working of the CCID that they continue to invest in new and innovative methods to help in the fight against crime.”