Tampa police chief and body-cam supplier at odds over tracking mute feature | Tampa Bay News | Tampa

A police body camera supplier said Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor’s assertion that the mute feature of TPD cameras cannot be tracked is inaccurate.

On Nov. 18, O’Connor sent the board a memo stating that camera company Axon’s software cannot track the use of a mute feature.

The city council had asked O’Connor to review the use of the function because he sparked controversy across the country after being used by the police in very sensitive situations.

“Since August, the Tampa Police Department has been working with Axon regarding tracking the mute function of a body-worn camera,” O’Connor wrote in the memo. “Currently, Axon’s software does not have this feature. Axon updates their software frequently, and they realize that several customers have inquired about this feature.”

But after Creative Loafing Tampa Bay published an article about the memo, Axon sent an email in response to O’Connor’s statement. A press representative from Axon said that the sleep and mute functions of body cameras can actually be tracked by software, and sent an example of how the tracking works via a report from an anonymous body camera. .

“Audit trails for each individual device show whether a camera is recording in mute or sleep mode, along with the duration,” Axon wrote. “So mute and sleep modes can indeed be tracked.”

Click to enlarge An example of an anonymous body camera audit from Axon, which shows when a camera is muted and for how long.  - Via Axon

Via Axon

An example of an anonymous body camera audit from Axon, which shows when a camera is muted and for how long.

When O’Connor sent the memo to the city council saying the mute feature cannot be followed, the council planned to remove the discussion of body cameras from the council meeting agenda item. city ​​today. But after CL’s article on the subject, the board changed course and requested that O’Connor or a TPD representative appear to discuss the matter.

However, O’Connor asked the council for more time.

“I spoke with Chief O’Connor this morning, and due to additional information, she’s asking for an extension so there’s more time to figure out what’s going on,” Councilwoman Lynn Hurtak said.

Hurtak added that O’Connor had not yet given a date, and Hurtak offered the tentative date of January 5, which the board approved.

In Axon’s statement to CL, the company made it clear that there is not yet a way to track sleep and mute functions apart from uploading the audit report, but added : “It is important to note that the use of the sleep and mute functions is captured in the device’s audit trail.”

In his memo, O’Connor also mentioned that TPD and Axon will work to “find an automated solution” to the tracking feature.

But the city council did not ask the TPD to find an automated function. Board members were concerned that the mute feature had been used in situations across the country, such as police shootings and wrongful arrests, obscuring the transparency of the font. That’s why departments like Saint Pete Police have chosen not to use the mute or silence features. Earlier this year, the council asked TPD if there was a way to track the mute feature.

In the final paragraph of his memo to council, O’Connor said, “The police department routinely performs quality assurance audits of many different things, including random review of body camera video.”

Nowhere in the memo sent to the board does O’Connor mention the ability in Axon’s software to track sleep and mute functions.

At today’s meeting, Councilman Bill Carlson weighed in on the situation, saying he hopes the TPD’s report next year will be transparent.

“We’ve seen a lot of information come out that, while it may seem technically accurate, isn’t quite accurate and can be misleading,” Carlson said. “And so I would encourage in the [TPD] report that it is up to us to be transparent and precise with the information provided. »

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