Police departments around the countrymay equip officers with body cameras like the one shown above on a Minneapolis officer. AP photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
While President Obama is calling for a new $263 million community policing plan including funding for 50,000 police body cameras, the idea of outfitting officers with body cams is nothing new at the Chattanooga Police Department.
"It's not until a perceived crisis erupts in a community that folks outside the industry tend to take an interest in it. We've been looking at this for many years," said Chattanooga Police Chief Fred fletcher.
Fletcher said CPD tested body cameras a couple years ago, and are going through a second round of testing right now due to new technology.
But budgeting for these cameras is complicated, he said. Although technology is available, funding is often an issue.
"It's also an unknown cost because it's an entirely new world," Fletcher said.
If you Google search the cost of a body camera, you can find some for around $150. But there are plenty of peripheral costs involved.
"When you acquire data, data equals storage. Storage equals costs. And it also requires human resources and maintenance of that," said Fletcher.
He's working with other law enforcement officers across the state to come up with a comprehensive policy that abides state laws and makes sense.
While some departments in Tennessee already use the technology, Fletcher pointed out they're typically smaller departments with a lower call volume.
CPD responds to an average of 600 calls per day. With officers working eight-hour shifts, 365 days a year, it would require an enormous amount of storage.
But Fletcher said the cameras won't replace what builds trust in the first place.
"Technology will never be a replacement for a handshake. Technology will never be a replacement for a hug. Technology will never be a replacement for an officer on a front porch in a time of need," he said.
"It's the relationships that build trust. It's the people that build trust. Video simply documents those activities."
FBI statistics show there are 630,000 officers employed across the country. Obama's plan will help fund 50,000 body cameras. So the overall effect of helping fund the technology for 12-percent of the nation's law enforcement is still unclear.
Saturday, January 20 2018 9:37 AM EST2018-01-20 14:37:09 GMT
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