Salisbury city police set to deploy officer body cameras

Todd Dudek Photo

City police have an array of equipment at their disposal. (Todd Dudek Photo)

Within a few weeks, Salisbury police will be wearing lightweight body cameras at mid-chest and activating them at every stop and interaction with the public.

At its Nov. 23 meeting, the City Council approved $169,000 to buy 70 cameras from Taser International, based in Arizona. Mayor Jake Day said the city had budgeted $180,000.

“It’s a second set of eyes for citizens as well as for our police officers,” said Capt. Rich Kaiser of  the Salisbury Police Department. The digital movie cameras won’t be on all the time, only when they are activated, at stops. Recordings will be regularly reviewed and could be used in court, he said.

“With the trying times that law enforcement is going through right now, the timing couldn’t be any better for these cameras. The implementation right now is perfect timing,” Kaiser said.

The cameras will be positioned at chest level because police department officials believe that area provides stability for a clear image. The cameras are about 4 inches by 5 inches and not at all heavy, Kaiser said. All sworn patrol officers will wear them.

Before officers start using the cameras, they will be taught how they work and about legal aspects, Kaiser said. Representatives from within the police department and from the Taser company will provide training.

“It’s a huge step for us as well as for new officers coming out of the academy. It will be an extra tool for them. It’s an extra piece of equipment for them and it’s going to challenge them,” Kaiser said.

“We hope to get them very soon,” Kaiser said, adding cameras are in high demand by law enforcement agencies.

Day said while the cameras probably won’t reduce crime in the city, they will “ensure our police force, our police officers and our citizens that they are all safer in the process of fighting crime.”

“They will ensure the safety of everybody involved, just like car dash cams did 15 or 20 years ago,” Day said.

Councilman Jim Ireton said he’s looking forward “to working with Chief (Barbara) Duncan and Mayor Day on a policy for the use of the cameras.”

At the Nov. 23 Council meeting, Ireton stressed the need for proper implementation and strict guidelines, from when cameras turn on to which direction they point.

“You don’t want reports based on incident recollection,” he said.

Day agreed, adding the City Council and public should be notified when the cameras arrive and when they are deployed.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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