by Jennifer Sierra
Bellevue, Kentucky police officers have embraced new and alternative technology to fight crime. “We decided to use cameras in our department for transparency and to protect our officers. Bellevue officers are well trained, polite and professional. Having cameras on them prevents people from accusing them of being abusive towards suspects. This technology protects everyone not just the officers.” stated Chief Wayne Turner of Bellevue. The officers know that they have to use their verbal, negotiating skills instead of force first or they will be having a discussion with Chief Turner.
“We had a situation about a year ago were we had a shooting involving 2 traffickers from Cincinnati that came over here to sell heroin and we went to take them down, they ended up ramming one of our police cars, striking an officer and his partner putting a round through the windshield, just missing the head of the passenger, at that point they gave up. I had a crashed police car and an injured officer. Most of these drug dealers have previous felonies, they’ve got nothing to lose.” Turner said. The situation could have ended a lot worse and with the cameras, Chief Turner can get the entire story on video for review or to use as evidence in a conviction.
The cameras were about $4000.00 for 11 officers. We also had to purchase additional external hard drives for storage of footage which was an additional cost. Bellevue has seen using cameras since 2010 but this current system works the best so far. Turner said you get what you pay for. These cameras hold a charge long enough for an entire shift whereas the previous cameras he used couldn’t hold a charge for longer than a few hours. These cameras are easy to use, just one button turns them on and they are worn on their chests. All officers have their own cameras. They can shoot the data and download it but they can’t copy or edit the data because it is evidence.
Positives from use of cameras – Use of force complaints against the officers are down, citizen complaints against officers are down, convictions hold up in court because of the video evidence.
“We had a drunk, hit and run driver out of Dayton, Kentucky and because of the video evidence, the driver plead at court because we showed his attorney the video evidence. He knew he was caught. Because the admission of guilt right away, my officers didn’t have to spend a lot of time in court, a jury didn’t have to spend their time on this case, they can now be assigned a more serious case and this saves the taxpayers money.” Turner said.
One may wonder, is it legal to tape someone without them realizing it? In the state of Kentucky, only one person in the conversation has to be aware of the recording. In this case, the officer knows the recording is in progress, and while the cameras are worn and not hidden, they do blend in with the uniforms and if the suspect is inebriated, or otherwise impaired, they probably won’t notice they are being taped.