Clarksville police to start wearing body cameras after hiatus

Clarksville Police will once again be sporting body cameras, this coming after a 10-month long hiatus.

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (WHAS) -- They're about the size of a box of matches, but for police officers in the Clarksville Police Department, the return of body cameras are expected to save them a lot of trouble.

"Everybody has a hi-def camcorder in their hand now. Unfortunately, the only 10 seconds of the video you may see are the final point where the officers have had to escalate to the point where they have to go hands on. You don't see the 25 seconds before that," Clarksville Police Assistant Chief David Kirby said.

The Clarksville Police Department has two body cameras right now, given to them as a demo, but with the Clarksville Town Council unanimously voting Tuesday to approve $73,000 in funding for a new body camera system, the department will be receiving 50 cameras and three-years worth of equipment and storage.

"In today's environment, having an adequate portrayal from both sides of what happened at a scene was beneficial to us," Kirby said.

Clarksville was one of the first police departments in Kentuckiana to use body cameras, introducing them to the force in 2012. Other police departments in the area, like Louisville Metro Police, also use body cameras, often releasing the video to the public during controversial situations, like officer-involved shootings, done in the spirit of transparency.

"It does change people's demeanor. Once they know they're being recorded, people will totally change how they act," Kirby said. "And if that's what it takes for there not to be an altercation, that's what we want."

In 2016, the state of Indiana enacted a body camera bill, requiring police departments to hold body cam video for 190 days and also to redact and blur certain images from the recordings - things Kirby said the department was not able to do then.

"After we removed them from the officers, several officers kept requesting to know when we were getting them back," he said. "I don't think that was their goal, but unfortunately that outcome to make everybody happy in the process of forming the bill, they had to make certain exceptions."

Kirby said with the lower costs, the department is now able to meet those requirements and expects to have officers wearing their body cameras once again by early July at the latest.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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