Police address concerns over statewide body camera bill

WICHITA, Kansas – Legislators are trying to take the body camera issue statewide. They’re discussing a bill to make body cameras a requirement for all police departments, but while many people are in favor of the move, they’re not happy with how it’s being handled.

“The concept of having body cams? Not a problem. I mean, this is the next step in the evolution of law enforcement equipment if you will,” said Chief James Daily with the Newton Police Department.

So where is the problem? Funding the endeavor.

“The state sometimes is fairly notorious for putting out unfunded mandates and in this particular case that’s what this is,” Daily said.

On-body camera (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
On-body camera (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Lawmakers are considering the bill which would make body cameras a necessity for every police department in the state. Community activists say it’s a step in the right direction.

“I think this is one way that might help clarify and eliminate some of the racial profiling,” said Rev. Ben Scott with the NAACP.

The bill would require every officer to “activate the recording function of the body camera whenever such officer is on duty, continuously record with the camera and make an effort to record interactions with others with the camera.”

Legislators hope the cameras would increase transparency and accountability, but police groups say the bill falls flat.

In written testimony opposing the bill by the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, Ed Klumpp says “the continuous recording is both unnecessary and creates and additional cost burden as it will multiply the amount of storage capacity significantly…. It makes no sense to be recording while sitting at the court house waiting to testify, while sitting at a desk writing reports, or many other situations.”

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