Warrensburg Police Chief Rich Lockhart recently announced that the department has body and dashboard cameras for every officer and patrol vehicle, after a bidding process in January collected seven bids.
(TNS) — Warrensburg, Mo., Police Chief Rich Lockhart recently announced the department has body and dashboard cameras for every officer and patrol vehicle.
The announcement was made during the Oct. 14 Warrensburg City Council meeting.
“For us it’s been a struggle just because it's such an expensive undertaking and this past budget year the city council decided to add in some funding for the Patrol Video Project,” Lockhart said.
Bidding was opened in January and the department received seven bids.
The department tested five body cameras and one dashboard camera.
After a wear test, the bid was awarded to Brite Computers, using Getac cameras, at a cost of $107,508.
The dashboard cameras were officially installed Oct. 8, 9 and 10 in all 12 patrol cars and every officer now has a body camera. The detective cars do not have dashboard cameras.
The dashboard cameras include a camera facing the windshield and a camera facing the backseat. The body cameras are capable of recording video and audio.
“Patrol video is important in our line of work because when people are engaging with the police, they typically are under stress and when we are under stress we don’t always remember things as well,” Lockhart said. “For an officer who gets into a stressful situation, it’s the same thing. We’re still a human being.”
Lockhart said video provides an unbiased view of the situation.
“It allows us to hold ourselves accountable but it also allows us to hold the public accountable if they are alleging that we did something or did something wrong, we are able to go back and see if it happened the way they remember it,” Lockhart said. “The other thing that does is build trust in your community because you are able to show that your officers are doing the right thing.”
The system used by the department integrates the dashboard and body cameras and engages automatically when an officer exceeds a certain speed or engages their emergency lights. The cameras can also be engaged manually.
Lockhart explained that when one camera begins recording, the other is automatically triggered to also record. The system also engages the cameras when within a certain proximity of a camera that is recording.
“When I got here, (Warrensburg) didn’t have (cameras), they never did any type of patrol vehicle,” Lockhart said. “Around that time, nationally, the big push was to get body cameras for every department, especially after Ferguson.”
The push for police officers to wear a body camera came after the death of Micheal Brown who was killed in a police shooting.
Brown was 18 years old and unarmed when he was shot by Darren Wilson, an officer with the Ferguson Police Department, which led to protests in the area.
Brown’s family released a statement after it was announced that Wilson would not be charged with Brown’s death, stating that they would like to see every officer in the nation with a body camera and they hoped people would protest peacefully.
©2019 The Daily Star-Journal (Warrensburg, Mo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.