Virginia Beach Police update body camera policy; officers must activate camera en route to call

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Posted at 10:43 AM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 11:12:05-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Virginia Beach Police Department has released a video explaining their body camera policy and training.

In the video, Captain William Zelms explains how the department is now completely through all four phases of the body camera rollout plan. He says they are in the process of ensuring every sworn personnel has a body camera. As of now, only the department's 450 patrol officers have body cameras.

The department has now implemented a new policy that as soon as an officer is en route, they must activate their body camera. The older policy stated that an officer only had to activate the camera once they were on scene.

The only time the body cameras can be turned off and not on standby mode is when an officer is at the jail, precinct or on break.

The captain also stated during the video that they haven't been able to mount the signal device on the holsters that is supposed to automatically activate the camera when an officer removes their gun from the holster.

"For us, the issue really boils down to a compatibility issue. The signal devices are compatible with very specific holsters. Our holsters were initially not compatible with the signal," said Zelms.

The department says the issue was discovered in April while trying to install the technology. None of the 450 body cameras currently have the technology installed to automatically record when a gun is drawn from the holster.

The department says a vendor is providing new holsters that will be compatible. Zelms says the goal is to have new holsters to fix the issue before their July training program.

The captain says the entire department everyone wants this technology for transparency to the community.

This latest policy update follows the fatal shooting of Donovon Lynch involving an officer.

The officer who shot and killed Lynch did not have their body camera activated at the time of the shooting, leaving the community outraged and seeking transparency.

Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate stated that the officer's reasoning for the camera not being activated is still being investigated.

Related: Virginia Beach Police Chief provides insight into body cam policy, other updates into Oceanfront shootings