Kansas police now wearing body cameras

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TOPEKA, KS (WIBW) — Topeka Police Officers credit body cameras on their uniforms with adding an extra set of eyes and ears on the job and they say the small cameras will also bring benefits to the community.

Topeka Police officers have come a long way since dash cameras. Now, they have a camera they can wear on their uniforms. On the street, it is called a “cop cam” or “body cam” and police say it can hold 10 hours of data.

In a 2010 incident, video footage from a Texas Police officer’s body camera, clipped to his uniform showed he was nearly killed by a murder suspect. The officer was uninjured and the video evidence landed the suspect in prison. This incident is just one example of how an officer’s body camera and audio recorder have transformed the criminal justice system-holding both law enforcement and suspects accountable for their actions.

The Topeka Police Department has purchased 75 high tech cameras for officers to wear and most law breakers never even notice them. The cameras are designed to be an extra pair of eyes and ears that officers can attach to a collar or to a pair of sunglasses.

Topeka Lieutenant Shane Lind wears his body camera every shift. “As soon as I make a recording and stop the recording, it will save it. And that is done with and the beep tells me that its on,” says Lind.

Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller says the videos are downloaded and can be reviewed by supervisors, officers or the District Attorney’s office and Miller says officers can not alter the video.

“The officers can choose when to turn the video on and when to turn the video off. They cannot edit the video. There is no way for them to edit the video. The video is what it is. Once it’s uploaded to the system then it can’t be edited,” says Miller.

From recording an incident like in Cleburne, Texas where an officer tazed a citizen getting out of his vehicle, to capturing the moment Wamego Police officers saved a 9-year-old girl from drowning in the Kansas River, Topeka Police say the body cameras help shield the department from citizen complaints because video will show if an officer acts out of line.

“I think it’s an emerging technology. I think it’s something we should be doing,” says Miller.

“If someone is making an allegation against the police, the benefit is there when you can record with audio,” says Lind.

Chief Ron Miller says the cameras cost about $1,000 a piece and the video storage is $100 per month. Miller says the money comes from the Topeka Police Department’s budget.

By Ariana Cohe

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