LaFayette po­lice get­ting body cams

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page - By Josh O’Bryant

LaFayette City Coun­cil on Tues­day, Sept. 19, voted to pur­chase 15 body cam­eras for po­lice. The cam­eras will be pur­chased from Watch Guard for $20,590.

The mo­tion to pur­chase the body cam­eras passed 4-0. Mayor Andy Arnold called it a “great pur­chase.”

Coun­cil­man Beacher Gar­many asked if the pur­chase is a bud­geted item. City Man­ager David Hamil­ton said it is not, ex­plain­ing that the money comes from the city’s tech­nol­ogy bud­get. He said the money was in a line-item in the ac­count that was tech­ni­cally for equip­ment set at $32,000.

Chief Bengie Clift said he would or­der the cam­eras Wed­nes­day, Sept. 30. They are ex­pected to ar­rive within four weeks, the chief said.

The city’s 2018 bud­get, which be­gins Oct. 1, is set at nearly $25.7 mil­lion.

About seven years ago, then po­lice chief Tommy Free­man had of­fi­cers fit­ted with body cam­eras. But they weren’t very durable and didn’t last very long in the field.

The lat­est video record­ing sys­tems, like Watch Guard (watch­guard­, al­low mul­ti­ple an­gles to be recorded from both the front and rear of the pa­trol ve­hi­cle.

The body cam­eras link up to the hard drive in the ve­hi­cle and all the data is stored; so if the body cam­era is dam­aged, the footage is backed up.

Walker County does not face the ex­tent of crim­i­nal vi­o­lence that neigh­bor­ing Chat­tanooga does, Capt. Stacey Meeks said in De­cem­ber 2016. (Meeks has since been pro­moted to direc­tor of city’s fire ser­vices and emer­gency man­age­ment.) In Walker, there are a lot of calls for DUIs, drugs, and do­mes­tic-re­lated in­ci­dents, he said. But body cam­eras would still be ben­e­fi­cial here, he said.

Some peo­ple in­volved in these rel­a­tively small in­ci­dents will dis­pute of­fi­cer find­ings, so hav­ing the video on the of­fi­cer not only pro­tects the of­fi­cer and the civil­ian, but it also en­sures a fair and bal­anced re­sponse from law en­force­ment, he said.

“We have been us­ing cam­eras for a long time in our ve­hi­cles and that is some­thing we started 20 years ago and that has helped out a lot,” Meeks said.

When an of­fi­cer’s con­duct was called into ques­tion dur­ing a traf­fic stop, those cam­eras were there to prove oth­er­wise at times, he said.

Body mi­cro­phones are al­ready on the of­fi­cers, so the au­dio is al­ready be­ing recorded and doc­u­mented.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.