Additional body cameras means more work for DA’s office

This photo shows a body camera worn by Wichita police. (KSN photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – With the addition of body cameras for all patrol officers, we saw more than 400 new body cameras on the streets, but that also brought big needs for the district attorney’s office because with more video available, that also means more evidence that they have to sort through.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says he never quite expected things to shift like this. Six years ago, the office had just decided to dedicate one person to the discovery process, reviewing evidence and determining what will be used for trial. Now, that’s all changed.

“Now, we’re at four and a half people working only on discovery.”

In the past nine months, the office handled 22,658 videos that were pertinent to a court case to the defense. Much of the video includes surveillance and interviews, of that 10,458 were body camera videos. However, Bennett notes those numbers are just for criminal cases that go to court.

“The number of cases and the types of cases, and the number of videos that apply to each of these cases, I mean, this is just kind of the tip of the iceberg,” Bennett said.

This past week, the district attorney’s office hired one more attorney to help with cases and with the discovery process, they hope to also hire another one next year.

“I get two more people, that’s 60, 70, 80 cases that they’re handling that not everybody else is,” Bennett said before going right back to the work being spread equally. “It lightens everybody’s load a little bit so they can spend more time, watching video, listening to audio tapes–all the other things that are going on.”