Police and fire brigade in Berlin start trialling bodycams
Berlin is the next big metropolis to implement bodycams: as of this moment both police and fire brigades have started their bodycam program.
The initial program will run with 20 bodycams for police and 10 for the fire brigades. The intention is to increase this number to 300 bodycams by April 2022. The bodycams will be needed to deter offenders, calm down escalating situations and provide protection for frontline professionals. In addition, the video footage has a proven record as evidence that will stand up in court.
Bodycams mainly to be used in problem areas
In 2020 alone, there were 3,525 attacks against police officers and colleagues of a similar profession in Berlin alone. This is an average of 10 attacks a day. There are twice as many attacks against police officers in Berlin than in the rest of the country. According to Senator Geisel, evidence from these attacks will be drastically improved thanks to the implementation of bodycams.
The police officers of the focus and presence unit (BPE) are currently equipped with bodycams. They are mainly used in problem areas such as Görlitzer Park, Kottbusser Tor, Warschauer Brücke and Alexanderplatz. Police officers from Section 52 (Kreuzberg) also received bodycams, as well as employees working in the rescue service of the fire stations in Mitte and Urban (Kreuzberg). Berlin firefighters are the first in Germany to wear bodycams to be better protected against potential attacks. Everyone who wears a camera has a special badge indicating this on their uniform.
Bodycam filming rules
Several police officers and firefighters have received bodycam training. They were told what to say to people before they switch the bodycam on and how to handle all technical aspects. They also know how to save the evidence in case it needs to be used as legal protection for frontline professionals.
Officials are only allowed to film during potentially dangerous situations or if the civilian demands it. A strict rule remains that no recordings can be made in apartments and other places which are not accessible to the public. It is also not permitted to film during demonstrations. This is due to the strict privacy rules in Germany.
Lastly, if bodycam footage is needed for criminal proceedings, the videos must be destroyed after one month.