(The Center Square) – Virginia Beach Police are acquiring holsters that will automatically turn on an officer’s body camera when a gun is drawn and are enacting other reforms that will make body camera use more common, the department announced.
The new holsters, which will arrive in July, were ordered after an officer fatally shot a man in Oceanfront. The officer claimed the man was brandishing a gun, but the family insists his gun was in his pocket.
Virginia Beach is also changing its policies on when officers are required to turn on their body camera footage following the incident. Police will be required to turn on their cameras as soon as they dispatch to a scene. Cameras can only be turned off when the officer is at the jail, at the precinct or on a personal break.
Under previous policy, officers did not have to turn on their camera until they got to the scene.
The department has also equipped their tasers with technology that will automatically turn on the body camera when it is drawn.
In a video released by the department, Cap. William Zelms said the technology will help ensure transparency and accountability. He said the department has been rolling out body camera technology over the past couple of years and the methodical approach was to ensure the department does everything right.
“The most important thing I want everyone to know is we are committed to accountability and transparency,” Zelms said. “Our officers support and want this technology. There is no opposition from us. We want the tools that are going to help us do our jobs and help the public see how exceptional our officers are in everything that they do every day.”