Dubuque Police: Body cameras could be in use by next week - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque Police: Body cameras could be in use by next week

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Dubuque Police say all of their officers will be using body cameras possibly by next week, and if not, then by the end of the year.

The cameras, bought with a $61,000 grant they received earlier this year, will be mutually beneficial to police and the citizens of Dubuque, Lt. Scott Baxter with the Dubuque Police said.

Officers will be required to switch them on for nearly all formal interactions, but there will be some situations where they can't turn them on.

"You know, a victim in a potentially compromising or an embarrassing situation. They'll use some discretion as to what they record, how much they record. But there are specific situations in which they are expected to record: traffic stops, prisoner transports, processing an operating while intoxicated person," Baxter said.

They don't have the hard drive space to have their officers to record their entire shift everyday, so the officers will be responsible for turning it on themselves.

"There's a learning curve involved. These are relatively simple to operate, but at the same time if you're in a high stress situation and have to jump out of your car quickly and deal with the situation, me personally, one of the last things I'm thinking about is reaching up to flip on a recorder that I've never used in my 20 years," Baxter said.

The department's policy governing the use of the cameras says officers who don't switch them on will have to document why they didn't turn it on.

Baxter says he thinks this program will be a good thing for everyone in Dubuque.

"I really believe it's going to be mutually beneficial for the citizens and the officer that they're interacting with because it's recording. We've had situations where citizens hold up their cellphones and start recording us. And we can return the favor, so to speak, and everyone's being recorded. I think it holds people accountable," he said.

The policy also addresses when footage will be released to the public.

Baxter says the similar to their policies about dash cam and traffic camera footage, video that's part of an open investigation most likely won't be released.

Baxter also says the department will be doing routine checks of the videos recorded by the officers to make sure they're using them properly and for all the events they're supposed to use them for.

"Just like many things in our department, we have a system of checks and balances set up for it."

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