Wichita Police Test Out Body Cameras

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Wichita Police are testing out a new body camera system for officers. Police leaders are hoping the trial will convince the city to purchase some of the units for everyday use.

The cameras are fairly small. They fit near the officer's head and provide clear video of everything an officer encounters from his or her vantage point.

"It's very light," Officer Rich McCluney explained. "It's comfortable. After a few hours of wearing it, you don't even know you got it on."

McCluney is one of six Wichita Police Officers testing out the cameras that the department is thinking about purchasing.

"Right now... (if) someone throws down narcotics, it's the officer's word against the defendants word when you go to court," said Captain Jeff Easter. "With this type of camera system, it will all be on tape and submitted as evidence."

The officer can also see what he is recording by looking at the monitor that clips to his belt, but he cannot tamper with what is being recorded.

"The camera system mounts to the back of the head," Easter said. "It can also mount to a hat or eyeglasses if he chose to do that."

As soon as the officer hits the record button, the video begins recording the previous 30 seconds. the system also integrates with an earpiece, allowing the officer to hear his radio traffic without the suspect hearing it.

The only problem, Easter says, is that the units are very expensive. One unit costs about $5,000, then $1,200 per year to store the video with the company.

"We'll make recommendations to executive staff," Easter said. "They'll take a look at it to see if it's a viable tool that we want to use. And at that point, they'll make an assessment on how many to purchase if we choose to do that."

The video would also be able to substantiate or prove allegations wrong against an officer.

Currently,, the police department has six of these units on a trial basis. they'll use them for another two weeks and then report to the city council. East says , if they choose to buy them, it won't be for at least several months.

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