UCF police add 30 seconds to body-cam buffers after concern from students

The department cameras are due for another upgrade

ORLANDO, Fla. – Students spoke, UCF PD listened.

UCF Police Chief Carl Metzger said the black caucus of the student senate asked the police department to extend its pre-recording buffer on all police body-worn cameras.

“They mentioned they would like to have the buffer go from 30 seconds to 60 Seconds,” Metzger said. “What that means is the camera when it’s turned on its running and recording in the background all the time, but it records over itself so it only goes back 30 seconds. Or at least it did.”

Metzger said he agreed to the request after checking and discovering the pre-recording buffer can be changed from 30 to 60 seconds.

“To store that extra piece of data is definitely worth it,” Metzger said. “They asked for it and we want to be accountable to them.”

Body cameras record all the time so as to capture the seconds before the cameras are actually activated. But the pre-recorded seconds are only stored when the cameras are activated - by drawing a gun from a holster, drawing a taser from a holster, turning on emergency patrol car lights, or pushing the activation button on the cameras.

“I think the concern was that they felt we might miss something,” Metzger said. “That critical piece of information leading up to the incident might be missing.”

Body cameras have been instrumental in showing the public what officers see when they’re forced to make split-second decisions, Metzger said. And capturing the seconds before is just as important in understanding or double-checking the decision-making, as has been the case in incidents around the country over the last few months.

“It ensures that we know what led up to the incident itself,” Metzger said. “Whether it is an officer-involved shooting or use of force, that extra time allows for the narrative to go back in time. So we know everything that went into an event and led up to it.”

Metzger said the UCF Police Department was one of the first in Central Florida to get body cameras.

The department has upgraded its body cameras regularly as part of its contract with the camera manufacturer and is now due for another upgrade.

All 81 UCF police officers will get new, higher-resolution body cameras within the next two weeks, according to UCF PD body camera manager Sgt. Greg Larkin.

Larkin said the new cameras will record better in low light, like dark hallways or rooms.

“Originally when the cameras came out, they wanted them tuned to only what the human eye could see, so the camera wouldn’t do any better than what the officer could see,” Larkin said. “Now due to some requests from officers and agencies, they now want for review purposes to see a little bit better with a new lens.”

Metzger said the UCF police department is committed to transparency and positive change: https://www.ucf.edu/safety/police-transparency/

Recently, the department sent two officers to an implicit bias training school to become instructors to be able to share the training with officers in-house:

[RELATED: How the UCF police department is trying to eliminate officers' implicit bias]

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.