WMATA announces start of Body-Worn Camera Program for public and officer safety

Posted: 28 March 2023 | | No comments yet

MTPD’s new body-worn camera programme will supplement the thousands of cameras already in WMATA’s transportation system, enhancing public and officer safety, as well as fostering trust within the community.

WMATA announces start of new Body-Worn Camera Program

Credit: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA/Metro) and the Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) have announced the launch of the Body-Worn Camera Program, which will train and equip all MTPD officers, sergeants and lieutenants to begin carrying body-worn cameras in the coming months.

The department will take a staged approach in its roll-out of body-worn cameras, beginning with a group of approximately two dozen highly trained officers in the MTPD’s Special Response Team (SRT) and Tactical Operations Unit (TOU). These officers will be the first to begin carrying body-worn cameras later this month.

The body-worn cameras will supplement the more than 20,000 cameras WMATA has throughout the rail, bus and paratransit system to further strengthen public safety and security efforts. Following the initial deployment, body-worn cameras will be put into use at each of the three MTPD districts, with an estimated 315 officers trained and equipped by the end of summer 2023.

“At Metro, we are committed to the safety and security of our customers, our employees and our officers. I am confident that the new body-worn camera programme will continue to build trust and confidence in the department’s work,” said MTPD Chief Michael Anzallo. “The research, data and feedback we’ve gathered from similar programmes in the region have provided us with important insights that will strengthen the roll-out of this important safety tool and enhance the overall success of our programme.”

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The body-worn camera is a device with internal memory for storage of recorded audio and video. The cameras will be attached to the outer garments of MTPD officers to capture a forward-facing view. Video and audio recording can then be initiated by the officer at any time and includes a pre-recording feature. At the start of any recording, MTPD officers will be required to inform individuals that the audio and video of the situation is being recorded by the officer’s body-worn camera.

Furthermore, a new MTPD policy has been established to ensure that recordings, investigations and retention of records are conducted in accordance with best practices. There are many documented benefits of law enforcement using body-worn cameras, including case studies nationally and internationally, that link body-worn cameras to reductions in crime, police-generated incidents and assaults on police officers.

The MTPD’s Community Services Bureau will begin working to ensure that customers are educated and informed around the deployment, protocols and use of body-worn cameras. Relevant information will be distributed throughout the community by officers, as well as using WMATA’s social media channels, website and customer emails.