Police Chief: Body cameras keep officers honest - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Police Chief: Body cameras keep officers honest

BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, SC (WIS) -

On Wednesday, two senators filed a bill that would make the cameras mandatory for all officers in the state.

The Batesburg-Leesville Police Department is already a step ahead, and the chief says the little cameras have made a big difference.

For Patrolman Zack Adams, wearing a body camera is part of his daily routine.

"Very easy to use,” said Adams. “They're actually HD, and they record audio and video."

Adams said it's a piece of equipment that he sometimes uses multiple times a day.

"These show everything just the way it happens," said Adams.

Which is why they're so important to Adam's, Chief Wallace Oswald, and others at the Batesburg-Leesville Police Department.

"No one from our city council or the mayor said we had to do it,” said Oswald. “It's something we took the initiative to do and search for the funds."

As other departments commit to the body cameras after several controversial incidents around the country, Chief Oswald is well ahead of the curve.

He's had his officers using them for two years and has rave reviews about the wearable cameras.

"Officers knowing that they have a body camera on will be more professional in doing what they were trained to do,” said Oswald.

But Chief Oswald says it does more than just keep officers honest, it keeps the public honest too and he says the cameras have drastically reduced "unnecessary complaints" against the department.

"A lot of times when we've told people that the officer had his body camera on and we would be downloading the camera and seeing what happened in the incident, in many cases, that complaint has stopped at that point. People will withdraw their complaint and forget about it, once they realize that everything was recorded on the camera."

As lawmakers consider a bill that will make them mandatory for every officer in the state Oswald has some concerns.

Primarily, the potential recurring cost of storage and the funds that might be needed to replace cameras over time.

"If officers always do right, then we got that on video," said Adams.

Chief Oswald says he supports an effort to make body cameras mandatory.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

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