Body cameras have been getting a lot of attention after public unrest erupted following an officer involved shooting that claimed the life of a teen in Ferguson, Missouri. Newschannel 6 discovered the Wichita Falls Police Department doesn't have body cameras right now, but they are looking into the technology.
Right now, all of the patrol vehicles are required to have recording devices.
“The cameras in the vehicles have been there for years,” Sgt. Harold McClure with the W.F.P.D. said.
He explained the cameras have made a difference for the officers and for citizens. He said it's a huge piece of evidence.
All of the officers have to check to make sure the recording devices are working before they leave to go on patrol.
If the audio, video system in the car does not work, that's grounds for the car to be deadline until it is working," Sgt. McClure said.
Deadline means the vehicle can't be used.
The camera system automatically turns on when the officer turns on the patrol light, but officers can also turn them on manually.
"What's great about these cameras is it actually backs up 10, I'm not sure it's 10 seconds, but several seconds prior to whenever the officer initiates the lights," Sgt. McClure said.
The video is automatically downloaded to their system and will stay there for a period of time so that way it doesn't take up space. However, there are ways to make sure something the officers need isn't deleted. He can "tag" the vehicle, which notifies everyone it can't be destroyed.
The W.F.P.D. said body cameras would be beneficial for the department.
Sgt. McClure said, "It's an officer safety issue. It's a citizen safety issue because again, anytime you can gather more evidence for a case, it always helps the case."
He said it could also help give a better perspective of what the officer is seeing and possibly show why they make certain decisions.
Before they make a decision on whether or not to get the cameras, they want to make sure they have done all the necessary research. They want to make sure they would get what they want and that they would work for the officers.
W.F.P.D. is also looking at cameras for their motorcycle officers.