Columbia Police say body cameras on officers are working

Columbia police body cameras are working

COLUMBIA, Mo. - All Columbia police officers have been wearing body cameras for a little over a month now.  Police Chief Ken Burton told city leaders Tuesday night that there is proof the cameras are working.

He said the cameras have decreased the amount of complaints against officers for use of excessive force, because the calls are all recorded on camera.  He also said both citizens and police are held accountable for their actions.

"It gives a true picture -- it's not someone's opinion, it's what actually happened," Burton said.

It begs the question -- would these cameras have helped in Ferguson?

Both Chief Ken Burton and Assistant Chief John Gordon told ABC 17 News that hindsight is 20/20 in situations like Ferguson, but video from a body camera may have provided crucial answers that could have avoided the violent protests.

"I cant help but think the officer having that on their person when things go down so quickly and they have to react to them is just a definite advantage," Burton said.

"Some things could have been taken care of immediately: a lot of those accusations. The truth is obviously there, it's in the video; that could've prevented a lot of things," Gordon said.

Instead, those cameras are helping every day in Columbia as all 102 officers wear them to every call they go on.

They record audio and video as soon as the officer turns them on, and beep every two minutes to let officers and suspects know they're being recorded.

Chief Burton said the footage from the cameras could soon become public record -- available to anyone upon request -- if the prosecutor allows.

"It's probably the best decision we've made since I've been here," Burton said.

Each camera cost around $300.

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