WICHITA, Kansas – KSN wanted to know if any of the officers were wearing body cameras during the officer-involved shooting that killed 30-year-old David M. Zehring.
KSN is told the Wichita police officer involved in the shooting did not have a body camera.
The cameras have been issued to officers in Wichita as a result of a recent push to make sure there is video evidence. Whether the footage comes from a patrol car dash-cam or for WPD, a small camera attached to their uniform.
While 48 Wichita officers have the issued body cameras, the officer involved in today’s shooting did not. There was not a dash camera in his vehicle either. The only video evidence came from the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s vehicle that was at the scene and equipped with a dash-cam.
“Having audio and video documentation of any event is always good,” said Capt. Brian White.
“It kinda takes the he-said-she-said equation out of the whole equation,” said Monty Shaw with Speak Out Kansas.
KSN has learned while following up on the use of cameras that the dash-cams are being phased out by Wichita PD entirely because they believe the body cameras are more accurate.
“If the officer walks up to a suspect’s vehicle or even somebody they stop on a traffic stop and the camera’s mounted on the officer, you can see exactly what he sees inside the vehicle,” said Capt. White.
The problem is that with fewer than 50 cameras to work with for more than 400 patrol officers, the possibility of an incident like Thursday’s officer involved shooting are at a low chance of getting caught on the body cameras.
Area advocacy groups are speaking out.
“We get the cameras, you know, you don’t have to worry about that as much. Nothing’s 100% but it’ll definitely help,” said Shaw.
Captain White says though that it is all about the money.
“Forty-eight is more than 5. It’s more than 10. And adding that technology, it’s expensive,” said Capt. White.
The Wichita Police Department distributes the 48 body cams as evenly as possible among the four bureaus and across all four shifts. However, two officers cannot use the same camera, no matter the shift.
Speak Out Kansas will hold a meeting May 6 to talk about police body cameras. They hope to also receive an update from the police department regarding the success of the cameras in Wichita.