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Durham police nearing decision on body cameras

Posted May 8, 2015
Updated May 11, 2015

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— The Durham Police Department will hold the first of six public forums Monday for residents to learn more about privacy issues, protocol and the use of body cameras.

The public forums come at a time when policing issues and transparency are a part of a national conversation. Department officials say then want to make sure the public has a voice in the matter.

“I don't think we can escape the broader national discussion about policing issues and police community relations,” Deputy Chief Anthony Marsh said. “Our community has been great partners with us, however this particular technology is something that's going to really impact them.”

The department recently finished 90 days of testing on two different models of body cameras, and officials said there’s no guarantee that either model will make the cut. But the trial period has allowed them to get some insight into what does and doesn't work.

Marsh said the department expects to make a decision by the end of the summer on which body camera to use. Monday's public forum is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Durham Public Schools Staff Development Center, at 2107 Hillandale Road.

"It's just another tool in our tool belt to do our jobs better," he said. "The camera doesn't perceive, it doesn't think, feel or have an opinion. It just captures what's in front of it at that moment. For both the officer and the citizen, you have that third neutral observer."

Details also need to be worked out about how the cameras will be worn and used. But one rule has already been emphasized: Officers will not be allowed to alter the video in any way.

"I think the public wants that sense of security, and we want to provide that," Marsh said.

Alex Charns, an attorney who represents the family of Jesus Huerta, an 18-year-old who shot himself while handcuffed in a Durham patrol car, said he thinks body cameras are a good thing.

"It's long past due in Durham and other major American cities," he said. "It protects not only the public, but it will protect the officers. The citizen is protected against the false accusations of an assault on an officer, and the officer is protected against a false accusation of excessive force."

Charms also said it's important that video footage taken by body cameras be a matter of public record "so the press can receive them and the public can get a hold of them."

9 Comments

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  • Chris Vet May 10, 2015
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    Durham has gotten so bad, almost everyone in the area should wear a body cam.

  • Ronnie Reams May 9, 2015
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    Probably a good idea for patrol and traffic divisions, not so good for desk officers, admin types and investigators.

  • Lisa Menendez May 8, 2015
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    This is a great idea... My hubby is a cope, they have recorders on the body, and car cameras.... It really does cut down on the general public from filing false reports when they find out they were recorded... So thinking the cameras are going to even better.

  • Kim Schrock May 8, 2015
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    This is win win. People will now be able to video the police as well and there will be 2 records of the incident so one can't get lost.

  • Rick Price May 8, 2015
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    If you get caught breaking the law , you should get a "plea deal". If you cant do the time , DON'T do the crime . If the plea deals would stop and the criminals had to do hard time , all this petty crime would stop.

  • Adul Siler May 8, 2015
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    Cameras will serve no purpose. To the public they will not be public record. It only benefits the Government the police take orders from. More proof to say you are guilty in court and less of a chance for a plea deal when caught doing a crime.

  • Rick Price May 8, 2015
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    So true. Thank you . This city has one of the highest crime rates in the state and they are TRYING TO DECIDE . There is nothing to decide. GET THE CAMERAS.

  • Tom Preston May 8, 2015
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    How is this even a decision? It should be a requirement in all police departments across America. Instead of spending millions of dollars a year on assault weapons and red light cameras, can the police not spend taxpayers dollars on something that will protect us AND them?!?

  • Rick Price May 8, 2015
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    Durham needs camera's in the back rooms at the court house and in the back pockets of the judges.