Kentwood Police Department introduces body camera program

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The Kentwood Police Departments youth academy will provide students with hands-on experience in police training and operations. Courtesy Kentwood Police Department

The Kentwood Police Department is introducing a body camera program that will include the training and outfitting of all officers with the new technology.

The department has had in-car cameras since 2000 and some body cameras since 2016. The Kentwood City Commission recently approved a five-year contract with Axon, the largest body camera provider in the U.S., for the needed equipment and technology. The annual cost for the equipment and technology will be $117,000.

KPD has 71 sworn officers who serve a growing community of approximately 51,000 residents through a variety of programs and community engagement efforts. The body camera program is part of the department’s commitment to accountability and transparency.

The department uses resident satisfaction surveys and continually reviews its policies, procedures, tactics and techniques to ensure all align with federal and state legal standards, as well as best practices in the profession.

These practices include training several times per year on multiple tactics and techniques for various types of interactions with community members, annual review of agency practices and ongoing community engagement, among others.

“The Kentwood Police Department has consistently placed great emphasis on community engagement, accountability and transparency,” Kentwood Police Chief Richard Roberts said. “With the implementation of this technology, we can build on those efforts to continue to serve our community with excellence and grow trust. We know the trust of our community can only be earned by impartiality and fairness in daily policing functions and outreach to engage and educate the community.”

The department plans to get all the department’s officers through the training and issue them body cameras by the end of May.

“This technology is beneficial for our community and our police officers,” Roberts said. “It serves as another tool to ensure the safety and security of our community and the residents we serve. The Kentwood Police Department appreciates Mayor (Stephen) Kepley and the city commissioners in supporting the department’s goal in implementing this technology.”

KPD joined eight other Kent County agencies that implemented or are in the process of implementing body cameras.

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