Rockford PD test out weapon-mounted cameras that could be the future of police tech

Rockford PD test out weapon-mounted cameras that could be the future of police tech (WKEF/WRGT)

ROCKFORD, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) -- It could be the future of law enforcement technology and it's being tested right here in Ohio.

The Village of Rockford Police Department is currently testing the FACT Duty Weapon-Mounted Camera by Viridian Weapon Technologies. The FACT Duty WMC employs a 1080p full-HD digial camera with a microphone and a 500 lumen tactical light.

"It actually is lighter than my standard flashlight that I have now," Rockford Chief Paul May said. "There's really nothing to it. You just do what you normally do with your firearm."

The technology is attached to the under portion of the barrel of the gun. The camera immediately begins recording as soon as the weapon is unholstered.

"Less steps that the officer has to do to get your radio on, your camera going, get your flashlight out, that's all taking time," Chief May said. "In a deadly-force situation you do not have time."

Chief May, who's served on the Rockford force since 1992 and held the title of chief since 1999, says his force has had dash cameras since 1996 and body cameras for several years. The FACT Duty Weapon-Mounted Camera would not replace either the dash or body cams, but would add another view.

"You're going to be able to see and hear what the officer is saying and realistically seeing because that weapon is going to be at eye level," he said.

The FACT Duty WMC is being tested, evaluated or implemented at more than 150 law enforcement agencies across the country.

"The number of departments taking part in our WMC program is growing every day," Viridian President and CEO Brian Hedeen said. "We're honored to welcome the Village of Rockford Police Department."

Viridian believes its new technology solves a deficiency often coming from body cameras in officer-involved shooting investigations. Hedeen says that was clear to him at a recent homicide investigators show.

"[Homicide investigators] immediately looked at [the WMC] and said, 'wow, every time we get body cam footage of an officer-involved shooting it's blocked'. They were very excited about this technology from their standpoint of being able to investigate these officer-involved shootings."

Several law enforcement agencies in Ohio make up the more than 150 currently testing out the technology, including Ashland PD, Avon Lake PD, Galion PD, Avon PD and Bexley PD.

"Our impetus with the whole product is being a part of the discussion, being part of the solution and trying to help people understand what really did happen in an officer-involved shooting."

The WMC cost about $500. The holster is about $150 and the rechargeable batteries, which last about three hours, run about $40 per battery.

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