COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — In the wake of a police officer shooting an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri, many are asking if police body cameras are the answer.
The Colonial Heights Police Department just equipped all of their officers with cameras on Tuesday.
“We already think our officers are very professional, this will give them another level that they know they are being recorded with every citizen interaction.”
Every traffic stop, every arrest. Starting right away, every police interaction will be recorded.
Before they’re worn, every officer will have taken a class learning how to properly use the camera.
“Because if you don’t it’s not going to make that full connection and it’s not going to work.”
Body cams have been in the news a lot lately. Many suggest that they could provide better insight into situations like what happened in Ferguson, Missouri.
Still, Sgt. Rob Ruxer says body cams have been in the works for a while now.
“We demonstrated this exact item in 2013,” Ruxer said. “It was just a matter of going through different cameras to see what fit us best.”
The camera will always be on during the officers shift, but will only record when the officer hits the record button. The camera also records the 30 seconds prior to that button being pressed.
“Say you do a traffic stop, and the officer goes out and turns it on, activates his lights and sirens, turns the camera on. It’s then going to back up 30 seconds so you may have seen what the officer saw for the original traffic stop.”
The department says the footage will be backed up each night at the end of the officers shift. The officer will not have the ability to delete any of the footage.
Sgt. Ruxer says the cameras protect everyone involved.
“It not only protects the police officer, it protects the citizen, it protects the city and the public as a whole.”
The department says depending on what is recorded will determine how long footage is kept.