Public Servant: Robinson takes on new role at WPD

Glen Robinson has been a deputy sheriff. He’s been an internal affairs investigator in prisons. He’s been a 911 dispatcher.

Now he’s filling a new role at the Winchester Police Department tasked with keeping up with the officers’ body-worn cameras and other duties.

Robinson, a Madison County resident, was hired as a 911 communications officer in Winchester in 2012.

“They were talking about building a new dispatch center,” Robinson said. While dispatch operations eventually remained within the police station, Robinson was involved in replacing all the consoles and upgrading the department’s abilities.

When the department purchased the body-worn cameras a year ago, the city commission created a new position to keep up with the mountains of video evidence recorded every day by the officers, he said.

The department purchased two cameras per officer, one to wear during the shift and a second ready to go at the department. When officers finish their shift, they switch cameras, and the footage is uploaded. The cameras record each contact between officers and the public.

Once everything is uploaded, Robinson’s work starts.

“(Footage) could be for a cat in a tree down to a murder,” Robinson said.

The officer notes whether the personal contact is evidence in a case or not, which determines how long it is kept, he said, from 30 days to 30 years.

Robinson also handles requests from attorneys and the public for the footage, whether for a criminal case or a traffic accident. On one recent day, Robinson had a stack of requests about an inch and a half thick. Since the first of the year, Robinson said he had filled 110 requests from private attorneys or the public. That does not include requests by prosecutors.

“Depending on the type of call, a video may last six to 12 minutes,” he said. “If its an investigation, it could last an hour.”

For each one, Robinson must redact any personal information before releasing the video.

“That hour video turns into three hours of work,” he said. “If you have four officers (at a scene), multiply that by four.”

Since the cameras were put in use in May 2017, 13,200 separate pieces of evidence have been recorded and logged, he said.

Robinson has also worked on several special projects, including getting new laptops for all the officers’ vehicles, traffic cameras at key intersections in town and installing microwave antennas on towers to improve radio communication. The microwave antennas help facilitate a radio simulcast system, he said, which allows city officers and deputy sheriffs, for example, to hear information at the same time.

“It saves a second dispatcher from repeating the information a second time,” Robinson said. “That project has been a major success.”

Robinson can also track criminal activity, which can indicate trends for officers.

“I can’t predict crime yet, but if we start getting car break-ins two or three nights in a row, that might be a point we need to do some extra patrols,” he said.

Robinson said he misses being on the road but still feels involved in law enforcement.

“I’ve enjoyed every side of it,” he said. “Here I’m looking at a screen every day. This keeps me close to it without getting shot at.”

Robinson is just one part of a much larger operation, he said.

“What I do it not a one-man show,” he said. It’s a lot of cogs coming together to be a well-oiled machine,” he said. “We can’t see the fruit (of our labors) until we’ve all worked together.”