North Rhine-Westphalia: battery problems with bodycams: every second device is affected

The bodycam is now part of everyday life for police officers in the country.

North Rhine-Westphalia: battery problems with bodycams: every second device is affected

The bodycam is now part of everyday life for police officers in the country. Officers can turn on the camera if they feel threatened, but footage can also be used as evidence against officers. However, that could become difficult in the coming weeks.

Stuttgart (dpa / lnw) - 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 devices of a certain type 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.

The shoulder camera was introduced nationwide in 2019. According to the Interior Ministry, it was used 33,000 times this year alone (as of July 31) for permanent recordings and for so-called recordings in pre-recording mode - short sequences are recorded continuously and after each 45 seconds overwritten again. 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 use 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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