- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Body cameras worn on the front of uniforms are being tested by a western Michigan police department.

A police lieutenant in Kalamazoo has been wearing a lightweight, battery-powered camera for about a month. The cameras cost about $1,200 each and provide video and audio.

Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley wants to make them standard equipment and says his department would need 100 to 125 of them for sergeants and patrol officers.

“I think it provides more of an objective point of view rather than witness statements or officer statements,” Hadley told the Kalamazoo Gazette (https://bit.ly/1vTns14 ). “It protects the officers, it protects the community, it provides better evidence in any case and it’s another layer of transparency that we can provide to the community so we can build trust and that the public can have confidence in what we do.

“The caveat to that is no matter what audio and video you have, it’s not going to capture everything.”

The idea of equipping law officers with body cameras is being discussed in communities across the nation after a police officer in August shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Metro Savannah police in Georgia are proposing a plan to obtain 360 body cameras, enough to outfit all the department’s patrol and traffic officers with the technology.

Cleveland plans to spend $1.6 million to equip 1,000 front-line officers with body cameras amid a federal investigation of the city’s police department that was triggered by a high-speed pursuit and the fatal shooting of two unarmed civilians.

Kalamazoo officer Sara Choi said camera footage can help identify suspects or witnesses when police are called to fights or large disturbances. The footage also could be helpful as evidence in court, she said.

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Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, https://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo

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