CORRECTED STORY: KPD Deputy Chief says department currently plans to implement body cameras by end of 3rd Quarter

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Editor's Note: This story has been updated as of Friday, April 16, 2021, at 2:50 p.m. Corrections made to this story include clarifying that the Kenosha Police Department will be signing a contract with a vendor for body cameras by early May. Implementation will not take place until the end of the 3rd Quarter of 2021. The Observer apologizes for the error. 

- Daniel Thompson, editor-in-chief

KENOSHA ⏤ According to Deputy Chief Eric Larsen, the Kenosha Police Department currently plans to sign a contract with a supplier for body cameras for its officers in early May.

A previous version of this story stated that the cameras would be implemented on May 3. However, Larsen called the Observer Friday to clarify that the cameras will not been fully implemented until the end of the 3rd Quarter of the year.

Due to scheduling issues for demonstrations, Larsen said Friday the department has pushed back its deadline for picking a contractor by “a week or two.”

The full audio of Kenosha Police Department Deputy Chief Eric Larsen’s Monday evening update on the department implementing body cameras to the city’s Public Safety and Welfare Committee. Video property of Daniel Thompson/The Uptown Observer.

After the contracts are signed, the vendor will need to set up servers and all necessary equipment in order to get the cameras on officers as soon as possible.

Larsen gave an update on camera contracts to the city’s Public Safety and Welfare Committee Monday night.

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The department is currently choosing between just a couple of vendors for the needed equipment, he said.

“We’re going to be actually contacting them this week in order to field test a couple products,” Larsen further elaborated. “I think, timewise, we’re set to make a decision by the end of the month. 

“We just want to make sure, given the significance of it, that we’re getting the absolute best that we can get. And we want to make sure that they work how we want them to work.”

KPD Deputy Chief Eric Larsen

As a result, the department will decide on a vendor by early May, on a tight timeline for implementation by the end of Quarter 3.  

Question over camera’s view 

The cameras that the department is currently considering have a narrower view, according to Dist. 3 Ald. Jan Michalski in his comments.

Due to this, Michalski asked if the department considered any cameras with wide-angle views.

“I know a little bit about camera equipment from back in the day,” Michalski said. “Wide angle lens would get a much broader view of everything around the situation. Are any of these police cameras going to have something with a wider angle lens so it can encompass a wider view?”

However, offering more of a view to the observer is not exactly a good thing for police body cameras. In fact, it can lead the public to believe that officers were able to see things that would be imperceptible to the human eye at the time in the conditions the officer is in.

As a result, as with other departments across the nation, the KPD has chosen to try to most closely mimic what officers would truly be seeing.

“So, with the cameras, you want them to mimic the human eye as much as possible,” Larsen explained. “The angle of the lens is taken into account, as well as the clarity of it. So that is something that is considered.”

KPD Deputy Chief Eric Larsen

Policy on Kenosha police camera activations under consideration

The public only asked one question during the hearing held on the body cams at the end of the meeting. 

“I’m not sure if they have access to turning them off and on how they please or how that works,” a woman calling in to Monday’s meeting said. “But in many cases, in many different states, they’re turning them off and doing what they want with them. 

“What is our situation when it comes to that?”

That is currently something the department is working through, Larsen explained.

“That is actually one of our considerations as to the record mode,” Larsen responded, “the activations and things like that to ensure that we are capturing things that need to be captured.”

KPD Deputy Chief Eric Larsen

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