GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Newly-approved body cameras will help officers do their jobs, officials say. What’s unknown is how the cameras might impact the public.
“Police departments can benefit from it because it allows them to, for lack of a better term, cover their own butts,” said Christopher Velez, an attorney in Garden City.
The Garden City commission approved a bid of $446,942 for 64 body and 32 car cameras to be paid for over 5 years.
“Really it’s just an additional tool to help our officers in the line of duty and gives them that additional tool to do their job,” said Vice Mayor Roy Cessna.
Depending on the case, body camera footage could help or hurt a defendant.
“Especially if there’s a dispute about certain chains of events or what a defendant may or may not have done or what the officer may or may not have said,” said Velez, who also said available footage starts to open up legal issues. “Search and seizure fourth amendment concerns. All this data that comes in has to go somewhere, and it is an emerging area of law what departments are supposed to do with it.”
As of now, the police department has no policy in place regarding how footage is released or how long it will be stored.
“The chief told the city commission yesterday that they’d be working on putting together policies on the different aspects of the length of time,” said Cessna.
The chief told the commission the cameras will arrive as early as March 1.
KSN reached out to the police department to ask about how and when cameras will be used and how footage will be stored and released. The department declined to comment.