LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ- Police body cameras are just weeks away. Even before the events in Ferguson, Missouri, almost two years ago, the Lexington Police Department had been researching and testing out different models. Now the first shipment of the city’s $2.6 million investment has arrived.
We live in age when almost anyone can be a photojournalist simply by pressing record on their cell phone. Police officers now have a second line of defense by turning on this body camera with a pack strapped to their hip.
Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard says, “It’s great for court purposes. It solves the CSI effect that we see. A lot where people want to be part of the crime scene that we see a lot right now…and see exactly what happened.”
The NAACP is one of the local group’s that’s been pushing for the body cameras over the past two years, they say to hold the police and the public accountable.
William Saunders, President of the Lexington chapter of the NAACP, addresses a crowd at a NAACP town-hall on policing at the Lyric Theater downtown. He says, “We’ve been mishandled in the streets, we have been shot in the streets, and we have died in the streets. So one of the first pieces, but not the entire piece, so one of the first pieces that we need to bring to our city is body cameras.”
In an informational video from the police department showing the point of view of the body camera most day to day interactions with the public, with few exceptions, will be captured.
On the video Commander Eric Lowe says, “This includes traffic stops and requests for services at businesses and homes.”
Many in the crowd at the town hall drilled Chief Barnard on the policies.
Someone in the crowd says, “One of the questions we have at the NAACP is that video can be given to the person so they have a record of the video because once it’s deleted.”
Chief Barnard replies, “So if there was a complaint or an issue that came up that video would not be deleted…They would fall under an open records request.”
In mid-August 75 officers will be wearing the body cams, eventually 400 officers, either on their collar or glasses.
The Chief says it’s a step in the right direction to improving transparency and building trust with the public.
“We’re very confident with it. I think the more inclusion we get and the more people’s input and the more they understand the use of the body cameras the better off we’ll be.”
For further information take a look at the frequently asked questions and policies on the city’s website. Here is the full version of the Lexington Police Department’s informational video demonstrating how they’re used.