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PD tests cellphone app as cheaper alternative to body cameras

The app allows officers to live-stream video to supervisors and provides their exact location using GPS technology

By Police1 Staff

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — A police department in New Jersey is testing out a smartphone app as a potential alternative to traditional body cameras.

CopCast allows officers to use their cellphones as body cameras with the push of a button. Officers download the app to their phones and supervisors download the desktop version. Officers can strap the phone to their chest and record a video that is live-streamed back to supervisors, USA Today reported. The officer’s location is sent to headquarters through GPS technology. After ending the stream, the entire video is saved on a server.

Departments can customize the open source software as well. In Brazil, officers noticed they had to pull the phone off their chest to press the button then reattach the phone. The department worked with the software developers to update the process, and now officers press the volume up button to start recording and volume down to stop.

The Jersey City Police Department is the first department in the United States to test the app. After months of testing the app with 10 officers, the department is expected to roll out the program to as many as 250 officers. Jersey City Chief Innovation Officer Brian Platt told USA Today that the app, which has a basic free version, enables the department to look for more inexpensive storage and support services.

“The beauty of it is, because it’s an app, they can make corrections and revisions and continue to develop it,” Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea said.

Jigsaw CEO Jared Cohen said they hope the app allows all departments the ability to adopt recording technology at low costs.

“We hope that CopCast helps to lower the barriers to entry and lower the costs of body-worn camera systems, which improve police accountability and enhance trust with citizens,” Cohen said.