Kansas Game Wardens Wear New Body Cameras
“Good morning, state game warden. I’d like to check your fishing license if I could…,” says Cherokee & Crawford County Game Warden Scott Leamon.
“Certainly,” says the Fisherman.
Local game wardens are some of the first in the state of Kansas trying out new body cameras.
“Thank you, sir,” says Warden Leamon.
“Most of our contacts are away from the truck. It’s not like a car stop with the Sheriff or Police Department where the vehicle is in front of us. A lot of times we’ll be out away from the truck or out in the field with people. So if we’re back checking duck hunters out in the marsh we’re a couple hundred yards away from our truck so the cameras with us then,” says Woodson & Wilson County Game Warden Ross Uhrmacher.
Oftentimes game wardens are out patrolling on their own, sometimes up to three counties by themselves. Local wardens say having the new cameras helps to provide a second set of eyes for reference.
“It gives us another witness to the contacts we make. It’s very beneficial both for officers and the public to help keep us safe and also it exonerates any officers of any complaints by the public,” says Warden Leamon.
The cameras can be turned on-by the push of a button on the camera itself-or even inside the vehicle as the warden is stepping out.
Warden Uhrmacher says the camera doesn’t make him feel self-conscious but is a helpful tool when assessing his performance.
“It’s another tool we use after we make contact we can go back and review ourselves and see how we did. See if there’s anything we can do better making contact with the people,” says Warden Uhrmacher.
Besides routine fishing and hunting license checks, the cameras can be helpful in more serious crimes
“If we have to do boating under the influence or DUIs they’ll be very beneficial as evidence. We do a lot of interviewing of suspects or people of interest for any of the wildlife crimes. They’ll be very beneficial for those interviews,” says Warden Leamon.
In Cherokee County, Diane Gerstenfeld KOAM NEWS.
Half of the 68 Game Wardens across Kansas are currently wearing the new cameras.
They cost the state about $10,000.