- Associated Press - Saturday, May 28, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - More than 115 police body cameras will be in used in the Omaha Police Department within the next few weeks, police officials have said.

Since Monday, 22 officers and nine supervisors from the northwest precinct and gang unit have received daylong body camera training, the Omaha World-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1qS6WjT ) Saturday. Many began using a camera on patrol following the training.

About 25 cameras will be given to each of the four precincts and others will go to the gang unit. Both rookie and veteran officers are using the cameras.

The goal is for all of the department’s roughly 400 patrol officers to be wearing body cameras in the next few years, Deputy Police Chief Greg Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez told the Omaha City Council in December that the department had nearly $800,000 in private donations from the Omaha Police Foundation to pay for the 115 cameras and five years’ of video storage.

A study last year by the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the Phoenix Police Department found that body-worn cameras reduced complaints against officers by 23 percent and improved processing of domestic violence incidents. The study also said officers found the cameras easy to use over time.

“We feel that’s really an added layer of transparency to provide extra details of what occurred on a radio call,” Gonzalez said. “It’s an added benefit for the public to know what we’re doing outside of our police cruisers.”

Department policy says video from the body cameras will not be made available to the public unless it’s entered as evidence in a court case or Police Chief Todd Schmaderer authorizes its release.

The only reasons the recording could be deactivated during an incident, according to department policy, are if a supervisor tells an officer to stop recording; if a non-confrontational witness refuses to be interviewed unless the camera is off; or if an officer decides that recording would hurt victims, a confidential source or an undercover officer.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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