- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Police in Louisville are planning to start a pilot project next year in which some officers would wear body cameras.

Major Robert Schroeder, who heads the department’s Administrative Services Division, told The Courier-Journal (https://cjky.it/1Bpcwxb) that the agency tested various cameras in 2013, but the project was delayed by unexpected costs of storing recorded video.

Police Chief Steve Conrad says the hope is to have a pilot program involving one division running by June, and implement it agency-wide the following summer.

The push for body cams on officers has been heightened in the wake of a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, that ended with the death of a teen. The decision by a grand jury to not indict the officer sparked protests and a call for body cameras, which some say could help show what happened.

“The elephant in the room is Ferguson, wanting to get these cameras quickly,” Schroeder said. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about how police operate in what they do. The video is going to show you what happened.”

The hope is that body cameras will increase public trust and police accountability.

“We really do want to get these out as soon as we can,” Schroeder said. “It’s not like we’re dragging our feet.”

Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott said the sooner officers begin using the cameras the better.

“It lets the community know the police department is willing to be a partner in community safety and lets folks know they can have some trust of police,” she said.

Lawrence Travis, a professor at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Criminal Justice, says cameras may offer some answers, but can also open new questions.

“The recordings are evidence, but the evidence has to be interpreted,” Travis said. “Cameras may not make too much difference in the most controversial situations.”

He cited security video footage in Ohio of an officer shooting a 12-year-old boy who had an airsoft gun, which fires plastic pellets.

Even with those questions, cameras can have an overall positive effect among officers and citizens, according to Travis.

“Citizens tend to be more calm, respectful, and compliant when dealing with officers,” when told they are being recorded, Travis said in an email. “Over time .most officers learn that the presence of the camera is an advantage” because it can help prosecute a suspect or clear an officer accused of misbehavior.


Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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