Local News

Police Car Cameras Make Life On the Beat Easier

Posted March 3, 1998

— The search for the suspects in Tuesday's Kenly police shooting would be easier, if officers had it on tape. Many North Carolina police departments are experimenting with video cameras in their cars, and they are making a difference. Oxford has a new weapon in the fight against crime.

The Oxford Police Department now has an unblinking eye -- called "The Eyewitness" -- in every marked patrol car. Complete video taping systems were installed Wednesday. City leaders think the move is an essential crime-fighting tool, so they went all-out. Oxford's is a small department that's using technology in a big way.

The camera is mounted above the dash. The VCR is in the trunk. And, the officers wear a hidden wireless mike.

WRAL's Mark Roberts didn't know it, but Oxford officers videotaped their initial conversation. If a suspect doesn't know he's being taped, it could be a very effective piece of evidence.

Sergeant Glen Boyce says that it's not just a way to catch criminals, it's also a self-policing tool.

At $5600 per unit, grants and local matching funds paid for the cameras. They've also installed computers in the cars. It's a pretty small force, that's pretty well-equipped to handle almost anything that comes along.

The system automatically turns on when an officer flips on his blue lights. Even if the officer goes out of frame the audio is still being recorded. You'll start to see a lot more law enforcement cars outfitted with cameras, including the Durham Police and the State Highway Patrol.

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