Prince William County Police Department Chief Barry Barnard has penned a letter to the community about the upcoming deployment of the department’s body-worn cameras.
Following a pilot program, the Prince William police and Prince William Board of County Supervisors decided to move forward with implementing the cameras for all officers in the field, to help promote safety and accountability in the community. The cameras are meant to be phased in through the end of this calendar year.
As a way to orient the community to the changes, Barnard wrote a letter to reassure Prince William residents, and provide them with resources to learn more about the cameras. Click here for that website.
Here is Barnard’s letter in entirety, from a release:
The staff of the Prince William County Police Department remain committed to our mission of enhancing the quality of life here in the County by providing effective police services to our community members. We accomplish our mission by building upon our existing relationships, pledge to make new connections and continue our focus of enhancing trust with those we serve. For quite some time, our organization has made community policing and building trust a primary focus with the people of Prince William County. We will continue this effort to improve our organization through proactive means and creating dialogue with our stakeholders. Over many years, your Police Department has seen positive satisfaction ratings from Citizen Surveys. While we deeply appreciate this support, we understand there are always ways we can improve our delivery of police services to the community.
To assist us with this important task, and after significant discussion and research, the Police Department will begin deploying Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) within our community as early as September 2017. Policing in today’s society has seen a dramatic change in technological advancements in our profession. These opportunities have shown to help law enforcement agencies improve upon their dedication to providing the highest level of professionalism to our public. Body-Worn Cameras are a valuable tool for maintaining trust, transparency and accountability. We have spent a great amount of time developing a comprehensive policy with various stakeholders throughout the County and region. By the end of 2017, it is anticipated that the Police Department will have fully implemented BWC in Patrol, Traffic Safety (Motors), K9 and in our School Resource Officer program. The Police Department may deploy BWC to additional staff as the program moves forward. This program is a significant milestone for our Police Department but will also be a learning experience for everyone – all stakeholders. Both the Police Department and the community will learn together. The BWC program will evolve and change as necessary in response to all of us becoming more educated and informed regarding this technology. As officers continue to adapt to this culture and operational change, we will strive to examine over time if and where improvements need to be made to our policy, practices and/or procedures.
Through this program, our officers will be recording law enforcement encounters with citizens on criminal and, sometimes, consensual matters. I also recognize this program will be a new experience for our community as well. Our Police Department has created a website with information about the Body-Worn Camera Program and will utilize social media to help educate our community on what to expect from our officers. To view this website, please click here. We have made our policy publicly available and have included information on how videos will be retained, released and accessed. I and other Police Department members will also continue to reach out to our community whenever possible to discuss the BWC program and to address any concerns. I am pleased to see the Police Department moving forward with this program and feel the implementation of a BWC program will build upon our community trust and make our relationship with our public even stronger. It is critically important for the Police Department to maintain community partnerships with our residents, business owners and visitors to our County.
We look forward to working with everyone in making the transition to Body-Worn Cameras a positive development for all.
Barry M. Barnard
Chief of Police