Wednesday, December 17 2014 2:08 AM EST2014-12-17 07:08:09 GMT
Police officers are pretty much on their own when they are out in the field. But in one local small town, there is now an extra set of eyes when officers arrive at a traffic stop, or any other scene, recordingMore >>
Police officers are pretty much on their own when they are out in the field. But in one small town, there is now an extra set of eyes when officers arrive at a scene, recording everything from the officer's perspective.More >>
GREENWOOD, MO (KCTV) -
Greenwood Police Department is the first police force in Missouri to provide body cameras for all its patrol officers.
Greg Hallgrimson has been in law enforcement for 12 years ago. When he became the Greenwood Police Department's police chief last April, he knew he wanted body cameras for his 12 patrol officers.
He said the cameras protect his officers as well as citizens.
Ferguson police had yet to install dash-cam videos on its patrol cars. Point-of-view body cameras would have answered many questions after a Ferguson officer shot and killed an unarmed teen.
The police chief said the body cameras are "one piece of equipment I would never want to do without."
Hallgrimson downloaded and searched through hundreds of officers' videos in a matter of minutes, showing the footage from the body cameras as the officers scoured hallways and stairwells at the local school and trained how to respond in an active shooter situation.
"I believe the body cameras are the next step in law enforcement. I think in order to keep up with the times it's a necessity," Hallgrimson said.
As the investigation and violent aftermath in Ferguson continues to play out on the streets there, Hallgrimson said body cameras may have provided answers sooner.
"In a situation like Ferguson, I believe they would be beneficial to law enforcement," he said. "In terms of liability, having everything on video there's no disputes on what happens. That alleviates the chance of somebody getting partial video or leaving other things to chance."
The department paid $900 per camera. A dash-cam for a patrol car can cost $4,000.
"Officers have enough to deal with. These are easy to operate," Hallgrimson said.
He said that with dash cameras and body cameras that his officers and the public are better protected.
Greenwood officers must turn the body cameras on and off themselves. The officers can turn the cameras off during lunch or other down time. But they must be on and recording during any encounter with the public.
The chief said they are also an invaluable teaching tool.
"An officer can go back and watch, [body cameras] just makes it so much easier for an officer to know what they're doing in their job," he said.
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