Body cameras have been effective tools in helping police officers perform their duties and in documenting officers’ interactions with the public.
The body cameras can be used in many different scenarios. One of the main things they do is tell the truth. If an altercation or other incident occurs and a person makes an accusation against an officer, the footage from the body camera will help police officials – and possibly the courts — determine what really happened.
In many communities, this has proven successful in disputing false accusations and complaints against police officers, including in Franklin and Russellville, where police departments are already using cameras.
The Bowling Green Police Department is preparing to roll out its new body cameras after the Bowling Green City Commission approved $175,000 for the initial setup. Each camera will cost $399 and the department plans to buy 95 cameras and all associated hardware, software and software licensing fees necessary for the cameras’ operation and video storage.
Before the rollout, officers will be trained on the proper use of the technology.
It sounds like a good system that will offer the public and the media an opportunity to view the videos from the body cams under an open records request.
A video manager will be responsible for redacting videos as needed for open records requests, but original videos will never be altered. Some videos of officers on calls that involve juveniles will have the juveniles’ identities obscured. Videos involving juveniles will be redacted on open records requests because of state law. Recorded video will be stored at least 60 days and could be stored for much longer depending on the evidentiary value of the video. The cameras will be worn by all officers who drive marked patrol cars. Officers will not be able to erase any of the imagery.
Body cams offer even more visibility into a department that we believe is already transparent.
As mentioned previously, Russellville and Franklin have already rolled out these cameras and are having success with them. Since Russellville police officers started wearing body cameras, its department experienced a 50 percent decline in citizen complaints against police. In two notable incidents in Russellville that could have resulted in litigation when citizens complained of police misconduct, the videos exonerated the officers.
Before the introduction of cameras in Franklin, the department received three to five formal complaints a year. Since the cameras were implemented nearly two years ago, one citizen complaint has been made and the video from the body camera exonerated the officer.
This shows the effectiveness of cameras.
They’ve also proven to de-escalate situations on both sides. In both cities, officers and citizens know the body cameras are on.
Cameras will be a helpful tool to officers in our city by avoiding litigation, disputing false accusations and in an array of other issues. They can do for Bowling Green exactly what they have done in Franklin and Russellville, which are both success stories.
In a situation where an officer does not act appropriately or follow proper procedures, his or her actions will be recorded as well.
We’re excited for many reasons that the BGPD is about to introduce these high-tech body cameras.
Bowling Green Daily News