Rotterdam to give all enforcement officers bodycams

Enforcement officers speaking to passersby in Rotterdam
Enforcement officers speaking to passersby in RotterdamPhoto: svershinsky/DepositPhotos

From next year Rotterdam will equip all 400 of its enforcement officers with bodycams. The Rotterdam office of mayor and aldermen allocated 250 thousand euros for this, expanding an experiment the municipality started last year by equipping 50 enforcers with these small cameras, NOS reports.

According to the enforcement officers who took part in the experiment, the bodycam increases the sense of safety and security through a preventive and deescalating effect. Citizens notice the camera, whether it is recording or not, and adjust their behavior accordingly. This is partly due to the camera having a flashing green light, even if it is not recording.

The bodycam is only switched on if a situation escalates or threatens to escalate. As soon as an enforcer presses the record button, pre-buffering is used to also record the two minutes prior to pressing the button, according to the broadcaster. These images are usually overwritten every two minutes, to limit the violation of privacy, the municipality of Rotterdam said. 

The municipality is also taking other measures to prevent abuse. The footage is encrypted and can only be viewed by two officials from another service. The Public Prosecution Service can only request the footage if there is a criminal offense. Footage can also be used if there is a complaint against an enforcement officer, or if the citizen him- or herself request to see it. Otherwise the footage will be destroyed after 28 days. 

During the experiment last year, body cam footage was used as evidence in at least one legal case.

According to VVD alderman Bert Wijbenga, the use of the bodycam works in two directions. "It disciplines the citizen. His behavior becomes less aggressive and he adjusts his language when he sees that the enforcer has a bodycam. But enforcers also know that they are being recorded and therefor take that into account."

Earlier this year Amsterdam also agreed to equip some of its enforcement officers with bodycams. Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema already said she wants to eventually increase the number of bodycams to all enforcement officers in the city.