Body cams fast-tracked for Byron police
SENIOR police officers have successfully lobbied for more body-worn cameras to be fast-tracked for Byron Bay.
Tweed Byron Police District Superintendent Wayne Starling said 20 new cameras had been allocated to officers in Byron Bay, in addition to the same number already worn by police based in the northern end of the command.
"Every police officer at Byron Bay or at least every team should have a body worn camera, which is great," Supt Starling said.
While officers will need to manually switch on the cameras when required, Supt Starling said they would do this when heading into any "highly volatile" situations.
After welcoming 20 cameras for officers in Tweed Heads, Supt Starling said the Byron allocation would help officers to more thoroughly record the facts of an incident.
The call for body-worn cameras in the command came after two violent incidents in Byron Bay, in which members of the public captured and shared videos of police apparently acting in a violent manner.
Supt Starling said they appealed to the NSW Police hierarchy to fast-track a partial rollout for the command, which was only expected to have the cameras from May.
"This gives us the opportunity for the community, the Magistrates and police to see the full picture," he said.
"Unfortunately it's not on all the time, they don't have enough data to have them on constantly.
"The important thing for us is that people see the full picture.
"It not only protects police but also protects the rights of community members."
Tweed Byron sergeant Mal Kentwell said commands trialling body-worn cameras across NSW had seen a 30.1 per cent drop in assaults on police and a 17.4 per cent decrease in the number of complaints against officers.
The number of briefs police have to prepare - which are required when a defendant challenges a charge in court - dropped by 25 per cent, he said.
Sgt Kentwell said the presence of cameras was also a vital tool in officer training, while holding police to account if they did the wrong thing, although the cameras must be activated by officers.
That's something Supt Starling hopes will be the case in his command, particularly as the full roll-out is expected to wrap up in two months' time.