Updated: 07/03/2014 10:33 PM
Created: 07/03/2014 3:04 PM WDIO.com
Duluth Police officers are now able to record any interactions they have with the public. That's because each one of them has been assigned a body camera. On Thursday, those cameras became a standard part of the officers' uniforms.
"We've been testing them for about a month and a half. I know the officers are a little apprehensive at first. But then the officers who have worn them already, appreciate the fact they have the video to use if they need it," explained Sgt. Jayme Carlson.
The camera is a small black square that hooks onto the shirt-front of the uniform. It doesn't roll constantly. Officers have been trained to hit record before any interaction with people, like traffic stops and interviews.
Carlton told the media that the video is uploaded at the end of each shift, but the department will not be randomly viewing it. "It's for prosecution purposes, or if there's a complaint against an officer. Then we can look at the video."
He said that during the testing phase, one person dropped his or her complaint about the officer, because there was video evidence of the encounter.
The goal is also to improve officer safety. "Studies show people are less aggressive towards officers if they know they're on camera," Carlson said.
Plus, with video evidence, sometimes defendants are more likely to accept a plea deal. "It is going to help us cut down on time in court, for officers and prosecutors, and save time on investigations and complaints against officers."
Each camera costs about $300, and the department purchased almost 100 of them.
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