Fifteen body cameras will soon have extra eyes on crime in Wichita Falls. In the next month the Wichita Falls Police Department will outfit nine patrol units and six motor units with the new cameras.
This comes after police interaction with the public is coming under fire after several reports of brutality across the county. That's one reason the Wichita Falls Police Department will evaluate the new body cameras.
“From the officers perspective it’s a great tool,” said Acting Patrol Captain, Lieutenant Sam Coltrain for the Wichita Falls Police Department. “For a lot of reasons, not only can it capture things and back up my actions but it’s also something I can review when I'm writing my reports so I don't forget something or I don't misstate something.”
Lieutenant Coltrain said officers will be required to turn the cameras on with any interaction with the public.The footage will be stored for up to 180 days in the evaluation stage, according to Coltrain.
“We're going to start rolling these out, a couple on days a couple on nights, to see what types of problems we run into and kind of give us a base line on our cost,” said Coltrain.
By problems, he means how much it would cost the city in time, by logging the footage, and the cost of footage storage space.
“We’re going to have some real big concerns over storage and what’s it going to cost to store the video,” said Coltrain.
“The city is going to have a big cost to implement them,” said Coltrain. “So is this something that’s going to be worthwhile for them to implement this time or is this something we need to slowly bring in?”
While body cameras are a solution to some problems, it won’t make every interaction crystal clear, according to Coltrain.
“It’s just a forward facing camera, it doesn't turn with the officers so it’s not going to see everything the officers see,” he said.
However, regardless of cost and concerns area residents sad this is the beginning of a very good thing.
“It protects the whole body of the community and also whatever money we are putting in as far as taxes... I believe it is a good investment,” said resident Brent Mccallon.
Mccallon said it's a good way to protect both officers and residents and others agree.
“I think it’s a really good idea because it’s good for both parties,” said resident Stella Hall. “It’s good for the police and it’s good for the citizens.
Officers expect to roll the cameras out within the next month.
Just about a year ago, the WFPD outfitted two motorcycle officers with body cameras. They have been testing those for a while, and they say they do see the benefits of having them.