Ferguson riots spark talks on law enforcement cameras

KIMT News 3 – In this technological age, it seems there’s no shortage of cameras. In many cases, police departments have them in their cars, or on their vests. However, the Ferguson Police Department in Missouri does not.

The exact details of what happened more than a week ago between an unarmed teen and a police officer, may never be known. In the wake of Michael Brown’s death, a petition has been sent to the White House. It’s called the Mike Brown Law. It would require all state, county, and local police to wear a camera and it has more than 130,000 signatures.

According to CNN, the police department in Ferguson said the only cameras they had were two dashboard cameras for their 18 squad cars. However, they were not in use, because they have not been installed due to budget issues.

We asked one of our own local police departments what those cameras mean for them. One local law enforcer with the Mason City Police Department is in charge of keeping their dash-cams up to date. He says, like most departments, they have running video 24/7 in every marked squad car. Every year, they have budgeted for three or four new cameras of their current 12.

He says they are important, because the times have changed. Where folks used to trust what law enforcement says, now, they pretty much have to prove everything. Needless to say, those cameras definitely get put to use.

“Hundreds of times we’ve used the camera footage for prosecution cases, or cases where the officer was accused of something and the video clearly shows that’s not the case,” says Mason City Police Department Lieutenant, Logan Wernet.

He says it also reminds their officers to always act in a professional manner. They have also experimented with body cameras. Wernet says, he has some concerns about how much those cameras can really record during a confrontation.

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