Harrison County

Gulfport officers are now armed with an extra set of eyes

The Gulfport Police Department is testing its new BodyWorn smart phones, which are equipped with cameras, WiFi and GPS. The department expects to go live with the first cameras in February.
The Gulfport Police Department is testing its new BodyWorn smart phones, which are equipped with cameras, WiFi and GPS. The department expects to go live with the first cameras in February.

Eight police officers have hit the streets with Gulfport’s first body cameras.

Police Department Sgt. Josh Bromen said he talked to one of the officers wearing a camera Monday morning.

“He absolutely loves it,” Bromen said. Unlike some other cameras used by law enforcement, the smartphones Gulfport ordered from Utility Inc. in Georgia activate automatically, eliminating human error, and the complaint that an officer can turn the camera on or off at will.

Bromen said residents have been asking for body cameras, plus the police department is keeping up with technology. The department has been using in-car cameras, first with VHS tapes and then digital-recording technology.

The smartphones, called BodyWorn, slip into the officers’ shirts. They are equipped with cameras, wireless internet, GPS, and a messaging system. The department will have a total of 100 smart phones for divisions most often in contact with the public: patrol, traffic and K-9 units.

It’s not going to change the way our officers do their daily business.

Gulfport Sgt. Josh Bromen

The devices also can capture 360-degree images that will allow law enforcement officers, prosecutors and the courts to review crime scenes in 3-D.

The smartphones automatically upload data to cloud storage. Bromen said most officers have opted for new shirts, rather than vests, that their phones will slip into.

The phones are being tested now. They go live the second week in February, Bromen said. All the body cameras should be in use by summer.

The City Council approved $1 million for the smartphones and other equipment.

“It’s not going to change the way our officers do their daily business,” Bromen said. “They’re doing the right thing. They’ll be able to capture more data and ultimately better serve the people of Gulfport.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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