ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV.com) - Last year, what started as a routine traffic stop for outstanding warrants ended with an officer suffering a broken nose.
The altercation between St. Charles City police officers and the suspect was all captured on police body cameras.
“It captures all the evidence as it’s happening,” explained Lt. Tom Wilkison.
Technology has been a priority for the department. Chief Randy McKinley has contracted with Axon to provide officers with the latest in body and dash cameras. The new cameras activate automatically anytime an officer draws their taser or turns on their lights and sirens.
“In the heat of the moment and when you’re trying to protect yourself or someone else and take someone in custody, you’re not thinking you need to turn your body camera on,” explained Wilkison. Which is why the technology does it for them.
There has been growing public outcry for years for more police accountability. Chief McKinley says first and foremost, the cameras protect his officers. But not all departments have outfitted their officers with body cameras or dash cameras.
St. Louis City police officers do not have cameras. A spokesperson for the city said it’s simply too expensive.
“While the city and SLMPD appreciate all the ways technology aids modern policing, the decision to equip police officers with body cameras carries a significant cost. Data collection and storage alone would cost between $3-5 million each year,” said Koran Addo, a spokesperson for the city.
In St. Louis County, Sergeant Ben Granda says the department is in the process of getting cameras for the department. They have chosen a vendor and are in the process of negotiations. The contract for dash and body cameras could be in place by the end of summer.
The City of St. Charles says the cameras cost the city around $200,000 a year for 105 body cameras and 48 dash cameras.
The software also allows them to redact faces and sensitive information easily for if it is requested by the media or public.