Some Minden city police officers will soon be adding another piece of high tech equipment to their arsenal, and Chief of Police Steve Cropper believes it will be excellent protection for both his officers and the public they’re sworn to protect and serve.
Body cameras are one of law enforcement’s newer innovations, and one is already being field tested on Minden streets with more scheduled to arrive soon, Cropper said.
“We’re in the process of getting some of the different products on the market and we’re currently experimenting with one,” Cropper said. “Two more are being sent from different companies…we thought it would be best to test the different types of cameras available.”
Cropper said he’s always been a big believer in the camera system. Each MPD patrol unit is equipped with a dash-mounted camera, but the body camera adds a dimension.
“Cameras in the cars are great on a traffic stop, but when the officer is no longer in front of the car he’s no longer on camera,” he explained. “These body cams will pick the action right back up. They will be a big advantage; it protects the officer and the public.”
Cropper said police officers are often questioned about arrests they make and, in some cases, accounts of what happen during the arrest vary greatly.
“So many times when an officer makes contact with someone, the officer says one thing and the people say something else. These cameras tell us who is telling the truth because the camera doesn’t lie,” Cropper said. “Cameras are great evidence gathering devices; we use them in court.”
Video from the camera during daylight hours is crystal clear and the audio is excellent, the chief said. The camera currently being tested also has a night vision feature. Still another feature of some body cameras can help when officers are communicating with headquarters after leaving their patrol unit.
“Some of these can interphase with the officer’s radio microphone which is usually attached to their uniform’s lapel. They can plug it into their hand held and communicate through the camera. We’ll experiment with it and see if the body cam can act as a body mic,” the chief said.
Body cameras cost between $400 and $500 each, depending on the type. Cropper is hoping to get 10 of the cameras, which would be a real budget buster for his cash-strapped department. There is, though, help available from a welcome source.
“We had a private businessman come to me and the mayor around Christmas. He indicated he wanted to help with fundraising and see if local businesses would donate to get these cameras,” Cropper said.
Cropper said he wants his department to be proactive in protecting the people of Minden and the body
cam is a step in that direction.
“We’re going to keep doing whatever we can to improve our department, and technology is one area where we can do a lot of good with the number of officers we have,” he said.