Police React to Body Camera Legislation
Lawmakers in Jefferson City are considering legislation that would make it mandatory for all Missouri police officers to wear body cameras.
Locally, the Carthage Police Department is one of the area departments already equipped with body cameras.
“We decided to actually replace our dash cameras with body cameras,” Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan said. “A lot of people are video taping us anyway. And so, actually, to have the full and complete documentation would actually be beneficial.”
It was the police officers themselves who asked for the cameras, to assist with evidence as well as citizen complaints.
“It’s just another tool for the police to use to show that they’re doing their job correctly,” one officer said.
“Dash cameras are great. They’re very effective,” Dagnan said. “But they only get the car-stop interactions. They don’t get the calls for service and those other interactions.”
But it’s those other interactions that worry Carl Junction police officials; who say the cameras could raise privacy issues for victims.
“What’s an open record? Car cameras are open records because it’s on public streets,” Carl Junction Police Chief Delmer Haase said. “Body cameras are gonna be used in a lot of different places. In businesses, in houses, places that aren’t public. And right now we don’t have any laws set. So it may set some court case precedent.”
In addition, Chief Haase isn’t a fan of the cost.
“If you make it mandatory, there has to be some kind of funding source to buy them,” Haase said. “They’re not cheap.”
While not going as far as endorsing the idea of mandatory body cameras, officials at the Carthage PD say officers should want them.
“99-percent of police officers in the United States are true professionals, they’re doing a great job,” Dagnan said. “Like any profession, we have folks that shouldn’t be in it. But that’s true of any profession you could name. And i think for the very big, vast majority of those that are doing their job, it’s actually a tool to help you.”
The Carl Junction Police Department is looking into grants to fund the cameras.
It’s estimated it could cost 10-thousand dollars to equip the department.