DENVER -- The Denver Police Department is launching its new body cam program this week.
The Department spent $1.8 million dollars to buy 800 body-worn cameras along with storage space. The first 200 cameras are being used right now in District Six, Traffic Operations and the Gang Unit.
Remaining officers will get the body cams in stages over the next several months.
Last year’s pilot test program drew criticism over the number of incidents where officers neglected to turn on the cameras. But the new formal policy unveiled Friday makes it clear that officers are required to activate the body cams after they are dispatched but before they get out of the car and initiate contact.
They cannot turn off the cameras until the incident has stabilized or they are ordered to by a supervisor.
Deputy Chief Matt Murray said they will conduct internal audits to make sure officers are properly using cameras. Officers who don’t follow the policy can face significant disciplinary action.
The cameras can be mounted on special eye or sunglasses, worn around the collar or on certain headgear.
The on-off button is on a device worn on an officer’s belt.
Officers will upload the video onto a secure cloud storage site. It will be kept at least 60 days and indefinitely in criminal cases or investigations.
Police said the video will be released to the public on a case-by-case basis.
They said have to take into account legal and privacy issues.
The Department said it is "committed" to off-duty officers wearing body cams, but details of that program are still being worked out.