Chattanooga police roll out new body cameras - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga police roll out new body cameras

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Chattanooga police officers are sporting a new piece of equipment, body cameras. The department now has 736 new body cameras with about two thirds of them in use now. Officers believe it will help the department become more transparent.

"And once I double tap," Chattanooga police officer Lt. Mark Smeltzer said while holding the camera, "It's recording now."

All 269 uniformed patrol officers will have 2 cameras a piece.  

"There's a magnetic mount where they can wear it center mass or also a pocket mount," Lt. Smeltzer explained.

It's new technology officers hope will provide transparency and accountability for everyone.

"I think it has a way to just change the way people act, both law enforcement side as well as citizens," explained Lt. Smeltzer.

The cameras have to remain on either standby or record mode when an officer is on duty. They record in HD, and are meant to be like a second set of eyes.

"There's no night vision or anything like that," Lt. Smeltzer explained, "We want to capture what an officer sees, what somebody would normally see with the camera."

The new cameras are another way to collect evidence at a scene and they can also be used as a training tool for officers.

"Viewing those videos and then taking them into the training academy or in-service for officers," said Lt. Smeltzer.

It's a small change officers hope will make a big difference for the people wearing them and for the community.

"Sometimes if we think that something is being captured on camera it can actually keep attitudes and conversation a little bit more civil," explained Lt. Smeltzer.

Officers have to go through training before they are given a body camera.

Supervisors will inspect the equipment regularly and at random.

All video is uploaded immediately after an officer's shift.

Video is broken down into one of 4 categories: non-event, limited, intermediate, and extended.

Non-event video refers to recordings that are accidental, have no enforcement action, or does not include any investigation.

Extended video refers to the most serious recordings, like officer involved shootings, use of force, or fatalities.

Depending on the seriousness of the video recordings will either not be stored or can be kept indefinitely. 

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