Ferguson shooting draws attention to body cams for NC cops
Posted August 26, 2014 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2014 6:37 p.m. EDT
Greenville, N.C. — The shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has prompted a national discussion on profiling, deadly force and law enforcement procedures.
The police department in Greenville is a step ahead of the conversation with lightweight, pager-sized cameras that 23 of the city's patrol officers, or 45 percent, wear as part of their uniforms.
They've been doing so since last year.
"We saw them as an opportunity and a good idea of promoting police legitimacy and sort of evening the playing field, because we were being recorded all over the place," said Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden.
Aden says he is convinced that having the ability to see what officers are doing while they are on patrol has improved the department's relationship with the community.
Since officers have started using the cameras, the number of valid complaints against them has decreased by 33 percent.
Aden says he would like to have 75 percent of his officers wearing the cameras by the end of the year.
"It's a game-changer in terms of community engagement, and also, people have been known to make false accusations against the police," Aden said. "So, those are dealt with pretty quickly when we can go to the videotape."
Once an officer is done recording, the video is uploaded to the police department's server and usually stored for 90 days. Videos that involve felony or internal affairs cases are kept until the case is adjudicated.
Now, armed not only with a gun but a second set of eyes and ears, police officer Ron Wilder says he feels more secure.
He recently used the body camera during an interaction with a hostile woman.
"As soon as she opened the door, she got belligerent and started cursing, so I turned the camera on and started filming," Wilder said. "That was really for my benefit."