Use Of Police Body Cameras In Local Communities Discussed
The major function for body-worn cameras is to capture evidence from police-citizen encounters. The Crosslake Police Department has had the cameras to use for all of their officers since December.
“The cameras have been great, it’s produced a lot of evidence that we wouldn’t have had before,” said Chief Erik Lee from the Crosslake Police Department.
But the big question is, when exactly do they need to be turned on?
“On the way to a call if it is going to produce some evidentiary value then we should have it on. Should we have it on when we are preparing for a call to get in the area? If time allows you to do that, where it is not an officer safety issue, we want to turn on the cameras,” Lee said.
If the camera was not on during an encounter, a report must be filed explaining why the camera was not turned on or what technical issue occurred.
“A lot of variables with it working, with it pointing in the right direction, with the officers remembering to turn it on, with the technology working with each other to make sure that it is turned on,” Lee said.
The Crosslake Police Department are currently the only one in Crow Wing County using body cameras. However, the Brainerd Police Department is in the process of purchasing them.
“It will help us prepare better for cases for prosecution, it will more accurately document different circumstances and the details involved and all of the different things we become involved in,” said Chief Corky McQuiston from the Brainerd Police Department.
Even though the department doesn’t have the equipment in place yet, they had a testing period where they laid out expectations.
“But for the most part in citizen encounters out on the street, our expectation is that the cameras are turned on,” McQuiston said.
Taking into consideration the technology aspect, things can still go wrong and the Crosslake Police Department has noticed technical issues.
“It is isn’t the cure-all. It is a great system, it produces a lot of things that we didn’t have before but just because it’s on it’s not going to get you exactly what you need all of the time,” Lee said.
There are many unique variables as to why and how a body worn camera won’t produce quality footage, but their use will prove helpful to the community.