Hill Enters Plea

Hill Enters Plea
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9/12: Jeffrey Hill appeared in a Newton County court room today. Hill is charged w/ assault of a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action, DWI, and driving while revoked. He was extradited some time after his April 2016 arrest in Wichita. According to court documents, Hill waived his arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty. A pre-trial conference has been set for later this month.

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UPDATE (4/29): According police documents, Jeffrey Hill was arrested in Wichita, KS on drug and drug paraphernalia charges. Local authorities are aware Hill is in custody, but it’s up to Sedgwick County whether he will be extradited.

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A Joplin Police Department spokesman says it’s been tough getting officers on board with body cameras. Some officers were given body cameras about two weeks ago. But at Monday night’s officer involved shooting in Joplin, a body camera was not turned on. Police say using them might not be as simple as it seems.

It’s not clear why one of the two officers wearing a body camera at Monday night’s officer involved shooting did not turn his on before shots were fired.

Captain Bob Higginbotham says “The officer hasn’t been interviewed yet by the highway patrol so there’s some information lacking there.”

Information that could help get a better picture of what caused the officer to fire multiple shots at the suspect, 49-year-old Jeffrey Hill, who police say drove his car towards the officer.

“Video evidence won’t always be the best evidence. Eyewitness evidence can sometimes be far better.”

There were dash cam videos rolling during the incident but Captain Higginbotham says they weren’t pointed at the shooting.

So far, only fifteen police officers in the department have body cams. I took a spin behind the wheel with Corporal Kowis who was testing one out.

“It’s supposed to get basically what we see,” he says.

In theory turning on the body camera is simple. All you need to do is slide down latch and it starts recording. But putting that into practice while on patrol is more difficult than it looks.

Corporal Kowis says “When we get out of our car to go deal with a call it’s one more thing we’re going to have to remember to turn it on to deal with people. And until you’ve done it lots of times, you know, we’ve got officers here several times that have never had to deal with this before.”

Besides human error, there have been technical difficulties getting started.

Captain Higginbotham says “The integration of the device into the computer system has been lengthy; sometimes they can’t even do that till the end of the shift. Sometimes the devices are malfunctioning and they have to reset them.”

According to Joplin Police policy, body cameras are supposed to be turned on in events like domestic violence calls and even traffic stops. The Joplin Police Department plans to get more officers equipped with body cameras in the future.