Sunbury Police Utilizing Body Cameras To Document Police Interactions
A city in turmoil over an unarmed man shot to death by police.
Were officers right in using deadly force with Michael Brown? Is Michael Brown a victim of police brutality?
All questions that might have answers, if the full incident in Ferguson, Missouri had been caught on video. Some departments have that advantage. Sunbury is one of them.
The camera is worn on an officer's head so it captures the entire view in front of the officer. It can all be played back later. The camera records constantly.
"We use it for everything, interviews - even if you had a parking complaint. We would use it to video tape where the car was parked," said Chief Patrick Bennett.
The chief was faced with buying new dash cams a year ago: $5000 a car. "That's a hefty chunk of change for just a camera that basically shoots out in front of a car," said Bennett.
A little research revealed body cameras were a cheaper option with far better technology.
Everything the officer sees and hears, the camera sees and hears. It's pretty hard to dispute any police interaction if it's all caught on camera.
Witness accounts, along with every action by a witness or suspect, is documented and can be reviewed over and over again, including every action by an officer.
"Hopefully you don't have police misconduct. We know it happens, but we're trying to prevent it, we're trying to make sure our officers are professional, they're providing the best service they can for our residents," said Bennett.
The cameras can help instantly confirm or deny claims against officers; something that's gone through the chief's mind as he watches the situation in Ferguson. "You would be able to see what happened at that time, what was said and all those things," Bennett said.
As Chief Bennett cleans up crime, he says the cameras are just one more move toward better policing. "I think on both sides of the camera, it makes everybody act better," Bennett said.