The Baden-Württemberg police are currently having to do without about every second of their body cams because the devices have problems with the batteries. Around half of the approximately 2,100 Axon Body 2 devices are affected, said a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior. “The damage patterns that occurred in different forms indicate wear and tear on the accumulators,” he told the German Press Agency. The result: the batteries in around half of the bodycam systems would have to be replaced.
“The immediate replacement of the conspicuous accumulators has already been initiated,” the spokesman continued. Due to production and delivery, however, it is to be expected that the devices will fail for around seven weeks.
In North Rhine-Westphalia there are similar problems with the police. The affected batteries swell up slightly, which creates “a very small gap between the camera and the carrier plate”.
Because police officers are being threatened, spat at, hit and kicked more and more often, bodycams are primarily intended to document attacks on officers. In tricky situations, they can press the button and the small camera attached to their uniform will start running. The recordings can also be used as evidence against police officers.
Tens of thousands of operations in seven months
The shoulder camera was introduced nationwide in 2019 after lengthy discussions. According to the Ministry of the Interior, it was used 33,000 times this year alone for permanent recordings and for so-called recordings in pre-recording mode – short sequences are recorded continuously and overwritten again after 45 seconds. Only when the officer presses the button a second time is the last sequence not deleted and the further recording is also permanently saved.
Most recently, a police bodycam made the headlines in connection with a deadly police operation in Dortmund. Two weeks ago, a 16-year-old was killed by five shots from a police submachine gun. The body cams were not switched on. According to investigators, the reason for this was that the operation was initially not suitable for a bodycam – since the young person apparently wanted to kill himself with a knife.
When the situation changed and he approached the police officers with the knife, the situation became so stressful for the officers within seconds that nobody thought of the body cam. According to the Ministry of the Interior, an instruction from the NRW police does not permit the filming of “very personal circumstances”.
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