University of Kansas police officers began wearing body-mounted cameras while on patrol this week, making them the only Lawrence law enforcement officers using the technology.
The department bought eight cameras for its patrol officers to wear, department Capt. James Anguiano said. Since the department has 16 officers, Anguiano said it was more feasible to make the purchase than it would be for larger agencies.
The Lawrence Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol have dashboard cameras in their patrol cars and wireless microphones, but no body-mounted cameras, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
“It’s not a hard sell in a police department to implement anything that could enhance officer and public safety or help with the court system,” Anguiano said. “It’s an easy decision. It just always comes down to the bottom line of budget.”
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Anguiano said officers tested the new technology this summer before introducing it Monday. He said it is now department policy for officers to wear the cameras at all times during their shifts. The cameras are constantly recording, but officers must press a button to save the footage.
“We’ve had dashboard cameras for 20 years and knew that in the long run it would be good to have body-mounted cameras, as well,” Anguiano said. “We do a lot of policing on foot patrol in campus buildings and heavily populated areas.”
Anguiano said the cameras will aid with the legal process.
“Sometimes defense attorneys will have a client who says one thing, but the video shows something else,” Anguiano said. “This technology should save time for everybody in not having to go to court for certain incidents.”
When cases do go to court, it’s helpful to have video instead of just testimony, Anguiano said.
“A lot of jurors like to see first-hand what happens,” Anguiano said. “It gives the audience a chance to see what was going on at the scene.”