Small cameras helping keep police accountable

Wichita Police Body Cameras
Wichita Police Body Cameras

WICHITA, Kansas – More Wichita police officers are going to be wearing body cameras.

For years, it has been a case of he-said-she-said at police involved crime scenes, but body cameras can help prove truth.

The city still can’t afford cameras for all its officers but, it will have cameras on 50 of them.

It will cost $18,000 to add 10 more to the police department’s list.

If you ask them, it is money well spent.

“Without the video, what you have sometimes is perceptions, and then it’s a matter of trying to determine what’s real, and what’s truthful, what was perceived and perhaps misunderstood with the video that’s cleared up pretty easily,” said Capt. Rusty Leeds, of the Wichita Police Department.

Legal analysts say the cameras are good for both police and citizens, and officers say it’s especially good for accountability.

“Recording police-citizen encounters generally preserves civil rights. For one thing, it protects police from false claims of police brutality, and it protects the citizen from false claims of confession or a waiver of rights,” said Dan Monnat, KSN Legal Analyst.

“When officers know that they are constantly being filmed, they tend to always maintain their professionalism even when faced with adversarial and hostile citizens,” said Justin Cole, Wichita Police Department.

With buying the technology and maintaining it being so expensive, they don’t know if or when they’ll be able to outfit everyone with more than 600 commissioned police officers.

But officials say what they already have has helped a great deal.

“The video has been useful for that purpose, and it’s also been useful in court from anything from traffic tickets to serious felony crimes.”

Officials say all the video is store safely for privacy reasons.

“Some that don’t relate to any crime, an officer gets sent to a location there ends up being no criminal incident, nothing transpires, those types of videos delete after 90 days, all other video at this point is pretty much being retained indefinitely,” added Capt. Leeds.

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