The Roseville Police Department recently approved a purchase of body cameras, such as this one used by the Grosse Pointe Farms Department of Public Safety, for all of its on-duty uniformed officers. The department will phase in their use over the next year.

The Roseville Police Department recently approved a purchase of body cameras, such as this one used by the Grosse Pointe Farms Department of Public Safety, for all of its on-duty uniformed officers. The department will phase in their use over the next year.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Roseville police officers to wear body cameras

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 16, 2018

 Public Safety Officer Mike Hodor, from the Grosse Pointe Farms Department of Public Safety, demonstrates a body camera commonly used by law enforcement to increase investigative ability, evidence collection and department transparency. All on-duty Roseville officers will begin wearing body cameras in 2019.

Public Safety Officer Mike Hodor, from the Grosse Pointe Farms Department of Public Safety, demonstrates a body camera commonly used by law enforcement to increase investigative ability, evidence collection and department transparency. All on-duty Roseville officers will begin wearing body cameras in 2019.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROSEVILLE — The Roseville Police Department will be outfitting all of its uniformed officers with body cameras whenever they are on duty.

The department will begin outfitting their officers with the new equipment throughout 2019. Department officials say this will be a big step in increasing transparency for officers and will aid them in the execution of their daily responsibilities.

“It will increase trust in the community, and when a complaint is made, we can show people exactly how it happened,” said Roseville Police Chief James Berlin. “I think it will be a big boost for the department and community. “It will lessen our liability overall, because we can prove what happens in a situation where people are saying different things.”

The Roseville City Council unanimously approved the purchase of the cameras in the amount of $232,790.25 at its regular meeting Oct. 9. City officials said this would be a good step for local police officers.

“Every one of our uniformed officers will be outfitted with a camera,” said Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor. “The chief and the administrators decided to embrace this new trend. Any tool we can get to enhance law enforcement is a good thing, in my opinion, and we are trying to keep up with the times.”

Berlin said that the adoption of cameras by law enforcement departments is becoming more and more common throughout the United States, and it may reach a point soon where not having them could be a detriment to officers trying to perform their duties.

“It’s obviously a national trend,” he said. “Everyone is moving toward the body cameras for liability, accountability and transparency reasons. It shows the public that we are willing to be open with them, and it builds trust.”

The department previously purchased a small number of cameras several years ago that could be used in specific instances. The new cameras will be able to be utilized by all uniformed officers whenever they are on duty.

“We bought a system called Vi-Vue a few years ago, which was sort of a stopgap, and they allowed SWAT and narcotics teams and detectives to record encounters,” Berlin said. “They only had about an hour of recording time, though, so this is more of a permanent, departmentwide measure.”

He said that, even being used in a limited capacity, the Vi-Vue cameras were of great benefit to the Police Department.

“Most times, they were very helpful. I could count on my hands the number of times an officer did something out of order,” he added. “The cameras have helped the officers countless times they did nothing wrong.”

The cameras also will be linked to the in-car dashboard cameras in patrol cars; when one camera is turned on, the other will be on as well. Officers will even be able to review footage on the spot within the patrol cars. The footage can be logged as evidence, which will create some extra work for officers, but Berlin said it is a small price to pay.

“It will cause some additional work for the department, but the nice thing about these new systems is that a lot of the work is done automatically by the system,” he explained. “The extra work processing (Freedom of Information Act) requests we might get from having these cameras is, I think, worth it in order to increase public trust.”

The purchase was made possible with funds seized from various criminal activity, mostly from drug-related crimes.

“The money has been accumulating over a long period of time,” Berlin said. “The goal for a while was getting a camera system, but they are very expensive, so we had to wait for us to have a means of getting those funds. Plus, it is satisfying to use criminals’ money to safeguard the public.”

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office has been operating with similar cameras for almost two years, and Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said he has nothing but positive things to say about how they have been integrated with his department.

“I’m glad we have them,” he said. “It captures the officers on duty, it captures evidence of suspects, and it captures interactions between officers and the public. It lets us be more transparent and review things as soon as they have happened. I don’t see any reason why a department wouldn’t want to have them.”

Dan Jensen, the director of the Grosse Pointe Farms Department of Public Safety, said his department has been utilizing cameras like this to great effect for years.

“We’re on our fourth generation of cameras. We’ve been using them for years,” said Jensen. “It protects the officers from false allegations and helps in prosecutorial matters.”

He did warn that the cameras are not a catchall solution to problems that can arise out in a community.

“They don’t give you a 360-degree image of what is going on around the officers,” he said. “They don’t monitor the officers’ emotional levels; it only shows you what is happening in front of the officer at the time. Of course, I still believe they are an overall benefit to the department.”

Taylor said he is optimistic that this will make the Roseville police better equipped to keep the city safe.

“It’s going to definitely allow our officers to prove their cases in a court of law, and to create more evidence for whatever case they’re dealing with,” Taylor said. “It will enhance our investigative skills. It may add some duties for our department, because it means more work via FOIA requests and (that we’ll have to) tag more video as evidence, but I absolutely think it’s worth it. … We have a phenomenal arrest rate in Roseville, and this will enhance that even more.”