New Westover Police Chief, City Council take step towards transparency with new body camera software

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WESTOVER, W.Va. — New Westover Police Chief Joe Adams and Westover City Council took a step to improve transparency within the police department. During a council meeting on March 1, Council voted unanimously to approve new Axon body camera software for Westover Police Officers.

Body camera policy and problems have been front and center in two federal lawsuits against the city. In one of those cases from 2019, body cameras were never turned on, or the footage never surfaced.

In the existing system, officers use a cable to upload body camera footage to a computer, and in effect, they control where it goes.

The new Axon software uses docking stations for the body cameras, which automatically uploads data to an offsite storage cloud system.

During a presentation to council members during the meeting, Chief Joe Adams said the system should make the discovery process for court cases easier and more transparent.

“It will timestamp everything that’s in; when it goes to process, we’ll have a digital footprint. I want to make it as seamless as possible for the officer and for the integrity of the system.”

Westover Police Chief Joe Adams

The price tag for a five-year contract is about $39,900. The money will come from CARES Act funding.

This is not the first time body camera policy or software has been voted on at Westover City Council. After attorneys at Umina Law filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Andre Howton in July 2020, Council rejected a proposed body camera policy ordinance proposed by Council Ralph Mullins. There was only one affirmative vote.

You can look at an in-depth breakdown of the policy debate, here.

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