Lawmaker proposes mandatory body cameras for area police departments

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 24 at 11:20 PM

 (KMOV) -- A new tool to help fight crime is not popular with some law enforcement officials in the area.

Three cities in the area are considering body cameras and a state lawmaker wants to make it mandatory.

Local police departments say it’s not that they’re against the cameras; they just don’t know how they’d finance it.

Body cameras record some of the most intense and dramatic moments an officer have to deal with.

Daytona police officers equip with body cameras captured the moments leading up to the death of ex-NFL player Jermaine Green as he held a knife to his girlfriend’s chest.

The New Melle Board of Alderman is now considering body cameras for its officers.

“I don’t think that anybody is in disfavor of it.  It’s just now the matter of costs,” said Don Hendrich, New Melle Mayor.

The cost can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands per officer. It could be tough to meet a state mandate.

“That’s going to penalize some of the people like ourselves with 475 residents, very limited budget,” said Hendrich.

The Wentzville Police Department has outfitted its three dozen officers with body cams. Criminologist says it’s the smaller departments that are leading the way with cameras. Larger departments have to deal with the higher costs, data collection and storage issues that have to be worked out on a massive scale.

Departments must also come up with policies for the cameras.

“What about the privacy rights of both the officer and the citizens Every instance where an officer encounters a citizen is not a criminal incident...so are you going to be able to record instances that are not related to crime,” said Dan Isom.

Some critics say the video is only from one angle and may not tell the entire story. Isom said that’s true but there may be other witnesses and other evidence.

He said its one more tool to help figure out exactly what happened.

 

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