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Biggest bodycam, dashcam rollout in SA begins for Cape Town law enforcement

The City of Cape Town’s law enforcement officers are steadily being equipped with body worn cameras and in-vehicle cameras with Automated Number Plate (ANPR) technology. This rollout is the first of its kind in South Africa and forms part of the City’s R860m safety technology investment over the next three years to make Cape Town safer.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis trialled the new body and in-vehicle camera tech during a demonstration in Goodwood on Wednesday 30 August. Alderman JP Smith, Mayoral Committee member for Safety and Security, joined the mayor.

‘Today we take the next big step forward in our promised investment in new safety technology to make Cape Town safer. The City will equip 800 of our officers with bodycams and install 290 in-vehicle dashboard mounted cameras or ‘dashcams’ this financial year.

‘In the next couple of years, this technology will be standard across our safety services to make Cape Town safer. The ‘dashcams’ are equipped with Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology so that officers will be alerted to wanted vehicles and outstanding warrants instantly in their vehicles.

‘These devices are used widely around the world and have shown tremendous success. This is the first time they are being deployed at this scale for a government agency in South Africa.

‘We’ve already seen the game-changing ability of the ANPR dashcams piloted in our new Highway Patrol Unit launched last year. Based on these learnings, we’re now rolling out cutting edge in-vehicle cameras across our vehicles. Together with body worn cameras, this will massively enhance situational awareness and the quality of evidence gathering to ensure more convictions.

‘This also increases trust and accountability in the municipal police and law enforcement, as interactions with the public will now always be recorded. This is important to us. We want Cape Town’s safety services to be trusted by the public, even while trust in other law enforcement agencies is declining. There is also global evidence which shows a steep drop in attacks on law enforcement officers after the introduction of these cameras.

‘Cape Town’s overall tech investment amounts to R860m over the next three years, including CCTV, dash and bodycams, aerial surveillance, drones, gunshot detection tech, and the master digital system to coordinate it all – known as EPIC,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

In summary, Cape Town’s R860m+ safety tech investment includes:

  • R118.4m on CCTV
  • R118m on Dash and bodycams
  • R109m for Aerial surveillance
  • R22m on drones
  • R10m on gunshot location tech
  • R442m on Licence Plate Recognition, EPIC digital coordination, radios, comms systems, IT and network upgrades

‘We’ve been impressed with the successes of the Automated Number Plate Recognition pilot in identifying stolen vehicles, those involved in criminal activities, and motorists with outstanding warrants.

‘The full rollout of an in-Vehicle Camera solution will now enable officers to record evidence of incidents as they happen, while also streaming live video to the control rooms for enhanced situational awareness of critical incidents.

‘Digital evidence is vital in the prosecution of offenders, and we are expecting the body worn cameras on officers to provide crucial footage that can be used in court, ensuring a higher rate of successful convictions.

‘Bodycams will also enhance officer safety by increasing situational awareness and serving as a deterrent to potential perpetrators of assault on officers. The cameras will also act as a safeguard for the public and city staff, particularly in situations where claims are made against officers, helping to maintain transparency and accountability thanks to independent footage that can be viewed in court. Now with this additional form of evidence, courts can instantly rule on matters, having to now only rely on a ‘single version of the truth.’ In turn, this will greatly impact the prosecution process and conviction rate of matters brought to trial.

‘The City is learning about best practices from international experts through a series of webinars and in-person workshops. The International Association of Chief’s of Police (IACP), Thames Valley Police, the Bavarian Police, Fairfax County Police and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department have all provided expertise to assist the City,’ said Ald JP Smith.

The aim is to keep on gradually rolling out this advanced equipment to help with the apprehension and conviction of offenders and enhance overall safety in Cape Town.

Source: City of Cape Town

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