Ferguson shooting shows why Iowa City Police use body camera - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ferguson shooting shows why Iowa City Police use body camera

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There's one question at the very core of all the unrest following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Missouri: what really happened that Saturday afternoon when Brown was shot dead?

A renewed focus is being put on police transparency.

With all eyes on Ferguson, the push to have officers wear body cameras is increasing.

Lieutenant Troy Kelsay with the Iowa City Police Department says body cameras show an impartial view of what really happened.

"It's not from the officer's perspective, it's not from the citizen's perspective, it's just a recording of what just transpired," said Kelsay.

Kelsay says the body cameras are essential not only for police officers but also citizens to see exactly what's going on and to help in prosecution of crimes.

Recording devices in an officer's car and on their bodies proves to be a very useful tool in police and citizen interaction, said Kelsay, especially when it comes to a dispute or complaint on officer conduct.

"Video impartially records whatever happens in its field of vision even when it happens outside of the camera. Hopefully audio is recorded," said Kelsay.

By policy, all 82 sworn officers with the Iowa City Police Department are required to manually activate their devices on all calls with citizen interaction, whether dispatched or initiated on their own.

The department has been testing body cameras since 2013 and soon each officer with the department will have their own.

He says it's a significant expenditure to the department, anywhere from $200,000-$700,000, but he says they're important and worth it.

Every police car in the department has car recorders inside.

Lieutenant Kelsay says there's really only one downside to the body cameras and that's perspective.

"I think the body camera system would go a long way to answering questions, it may be to the officer's benefit, it may be to the decided benefit, it truly is a win-win situation," said Kelsay.

While the question of what really happened in that St. Louis suburb may never be answered, law enforcement here at home say a body camera, or any recording device, might give some answers.


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