Body Cam With Front Dis­play In Use At The Bonn City Poli­ce — Inter­view With Sascha Hessenbruch


In addi­ti­on to the Duis­burg public order office (Duis­burg Tests Body Cams — Net­Co Pro­fes­sio­nal Ser­vices GmbH), the city of Bonn also alre­a­dy uses body cams. Sascha Hes­sen­bruch, head of the admi­nis­tra­ti­ve offen­ces and public order depart­ment at the city of Bonn, spo­ke to Net­Co about the use of came­ras at the Bonn public order depart­ment and the de-escala­ting effect of a body cam with front display. 

Mr. Hes­sen­bruch, you are in char­ge of the “Body Cam” pro­ject for the Bonn city poli­ce. How long have you been using the cameras? 

In Bonn, we have been using a total of 40 body cams sin­ce the begin­ning of June 2022. By coun­cil reso­lu­ti­on, we are obli­ged to eva­lua­te this deploy­ment after one year — i.e. in June 2023. 

Why did you deci­de to use body cams? 

In our coun­cil reso­lu­ti­on in 2020, it was alre­a­dy deci­ded to purcha­se body cams to pro­tect our emer­gen­cy forces. At that time, the­re was no legal basis in NRW for using body cams. It was mere­ly part of the poli­ti­cal dis­cus­sion. So we were ear­ly in the plan­ning in Bonn. The legal chan­ge in the Public Order Aut­ho­ri­ties Act then came only in the sum­mer of 2021, after which we imple­men­ted the decis­i­on — as quick­ly as is pos­si­ble with a pro­cu­re­ment procedure. 

How does the front dis­play in par­ti­cu­lar help your emer­gen­cy respon­se teams? 

We actual­ly noti­ce a de-escala­ting effect. Not ever­yo­ne agrees on whe­ther the front dis­play actual­ly has this effect, but this is how we per­cei­ve it: at the moment when the front dis­play is swit­ched on, the came­ra is not yet recor­ding, but is only in an ope­ra­ting mode. In this one, it tru­ly helps de-esca­la­te situa­tions when the other per­son sees them­sel­ves in the dis­play. So it de-escala­tes the situa­ti­on as a who­le, espe­ci­al­ly the beha­vi­or of the other person. 

That means that body cam recor­ding only occurs on rare occa­si­ons for you? 

Exact­ly, this has only hap­pen­ed very rare­ly so far. May­be we had 2 or 3 cases whe­re the body cam actual­ly recor­ded the situa­ti­on, but it won’t have been much more. In most cases, it is enough to turn on the body cam front display. 


How is the body cam recei­ved by your emer­gen­cy forces? 

It’s get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter, but that’s a pro­cess with ever­y­thing that’s new.  
We use the body cam pri­ma­ri­ly in two are­as: first­ly, in our pat­rol ser­vice (city order ser­vice) and second­ly, at the GABI poli­ce sta­ti­on, which we ope­ra­te tog­e­ther with the poli­ce. At the GABI sta­ti­on, the body cam was initi­al­ly used some­what more than in the city order ser­vice, becau­se the emer­gen­cy forces the­re are also con­fron­ted with other situa­tions. In the mean­ti­me, howe­ver, the body cam is being used very actively by ever­yo­ne, and most of them have now also com­ple­ted their training. 

Our body cams are not per­so­na­li­zed, but we have them each in a pool. Of cour­se, we have to make a few adjus­t­ments every now and then to make the hand­ling of the body cams as uncom­pli­ca­ted as pos­si­ble for our col­le­agues. The more com­pli­ca­ted it is, the more often the body cam is sim­ply left stan­ding and not used. That’s why we have rework­ed the hand­ling and wea­ring com­fort — key­word: hol­ders — and it now works well. 

How do the peo­p­le of Bonn react to the body cams and the front display? 

To be honest, they don’t react at all. We have been very open with the acqui­si­ti­on pro­ject of the body cams and have infor­med very broad­ly. Sin­ce our press event on June 3rd this year, the body cams have been in use. The local news­pa­pers — the Lokal­zeit, the WDR, the radio — have been here with us, have accom­pa­nied our task forces, have infor­med them­sel­ves, have in turn infor­med the rea­ders, view­ers, lis­ten­ers. Sin­ce then, the­re have been vir­tual­ly no reac­tions from the public. What has hap­pen­ed from time to time is that peo­p­le say “Yes, that’s a good thing that you’­re out and about with the body cams,” but I haven’t heard any nega­ti­ve reac­tions. After all, the point is to docu­ment cer­tain ope­ra­tio­nal situa­tions to pro­tect emer­gen­cy per­son­nel. Many peo­p­le have found that the­se situa­tions do exist and that employees need to be pro­tec­ted accordingly. 

Many have data pro­tec­tion con­cerns. Was that the case for you befo­re you acqui­red the body cams? 

No, data pro­tec­tion was not a big issue for us at all. We are often con­fron­ted with data pro­tec­tion issues being brought to our atten­ti­on from out­side, but this has not yet hap­pen­ed with the body cams. The topic of data pro­tec­tion is much less exci­ting for a regu­la­to­ry aut­ho­ri­ty — at least in NRW — becau­se ulti­m­ate­ly the­re is also a clear legal basis for it. The legal frame­work is ancho­red in the Public Order Aut­ho­ri­ties Act and the Poli­ce Act, with the result that we have less to worry about than, for exam­p­le, the KVB or other pri­va­te com­pa­nies. And that’s why no one is ques­tio­ning it.  
Intern­al­ly, of cour­se, we still con­side­red data pro­tec­tion issues: who can see and edit recor­dings? Could the­re pos­si­bly be con­se­quen­ces under employ­ment law if cer­tain things are recor­ded? But the pur­po­se of a body cam recor­ding — name­ly a regu­la­to­ry pur­po­se — is very cle­ar­ly out­lined, so data pro­tec­tion is not a pro­blem here eit­her. We have a clear aut­ho­riza­ti­on con­cept for all issues, and our soft­ware sys­tem is also data protection-compliant. 

 Thank you very much for the inter­view, Mr. Hessenbruch! 

About The Person:

Sascha Hes­sen­bruch is head of the depart­ment for gene­ral mis­de­me­an­ors, traf­fic offen­ses, the city’s public order ser­vice and the Bonn city cen­ter joint cont­act point (GABI sta­ti­on — regu­la­to­ry part­ner­ship bet­ween the sta­te poli­ce and the public order office) at the city of Bonn. Thus, he is also the cont­act per­son when it comes to the topic of body cam.  
At the next Net­Co Body Cam Con­fe­rence on June 14th, 2023 in Colo­gne (2nd Body Cam Con­fe­rence — Secu­re tickets for the next con­fe­rence now (, he will give a pre­sen­ta­ti­on on the body cam eva­lua­ti­on of the first year at the Bonn City Poli­ce Service. 

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