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Local police to take safety measures

According to policefoundation.org, the Police Foundation completed a study that revealed the effects of body-worn cameras on police officers. The study showed the implementation of the cameras resulted in a 50 percent reduction of use-of-force by police officers as well as a reduction in complaints against officers. WILLY ROSE | Scroll Photography
According to policefoundation.org, the Police Foundation completed a study that revealed the effects of body-worn cameras on police officers. The study showed the implementation of the cameras resulted in a 50 percent reduction of use-of-force by police officers as well as a reduction in complaints against officers.
WILLY ROSE | Scroll Photography

For the past year, the Idaho Falls Police Department has continually implemented the usage of body cameras on its police officers.

These cameras, which are 2-by-3 inches, are worn on the front of the officers, either on their gun belt or vest.

The cameras pick both video and audio and see what the officers see.

Captain Royce Clements of the Idaho Falls Police Department said the cameras were implemented after some officers purchased cameras on their own and started using them.

“As we, the administration, saw them do this, we saw that they worked really well,” he said. “We liked them so much we were happy to fit the bill for them, so we went out and purchased several.”

Since then, 25 cameras have been issued, and a purchase order was just made for an additional 10, Clements said.

“The ultimate goal is to have them issued to everybody,” he said.

Although most officers choose to have a camera, the use of body cameras is optional for the Idaho Falls police force.

Some body-camera videos have surfaced across the Internet, showing the misconduct of many officers.

Idaho Falls police officers continue to wear body cameras, even with the risk of filming something that might incriminate them.

“It helps you stay focused with dealing with people appropriately and professionally throughout the entire event because you know that you are recording,” Clements said.

Clements said he has yet to see an Idaho Falls police officer act inappropriately on a body camera.

“Some people say, ‘If you want to be rude, you can just turn it off,’” Clements said. “Well, the other issue is that more often than not, we have more than one officer on any given scene and all of them are recording.”

Officers are trained to expect they are being recorded at all times.

“You are being recorded in one of three ways: by yourself, your fellow officers or by the people you are dealing with,” Clements said.

Clements said the body cameras have also played a huge role in dealing with officer complaints.

“This has been a huge advantage to the officers themselves because it reduces the wrongful prosecution of officers,” he said.

Clements said he will often call in the individual who made a complaint and together they will watch the body camera video.

“I’ll say to them, ‘Here’s a recording of what happened. You are welcome to look at it. Please tell me where my officer was rude, because he wasn’t,’” Clements said. “And 99 percent of the time, those complaints are unfounded.”

Clements said that overall, he approves of the implementation of body cameras.

“They help us to remember to be doing what we are sposed to be doing, and it keeps everybody in the situation honest and -front,” he said. “It has been a huge asset across the board for all of our officers.”

Meanwhile in Rexburg, no officers are currently wearing body cameras. However, Captain Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police Department says they are in the process of implementing them.

According to The Police Executive Research Forum, Rexburg is not the only city not implementing body cameras.

The Police Executive Research Forum conducted a survey of 500 law enforcement agencies nationwide, and as of July 2013, over 75 percent of all respondents are not using body cameras.

“We are in the process of getting them for our force,” Lewis said. “The reason why we have steered away from them is because the technology has not been there, as well as the funding.”

Lewis said Rexburg police have cameras on each patrol car; however, when an event takes place, there is a blind spot outside of the vision of these cameras, which a body camera would solve.

“Are these going to help?” he said. “I don’t know, but I know it will keep officers mindful of what they’re doing. Plus, it will be their protection from false accusations.”

Lewis said that unlike Idaho Falls, once implemented, all Rexburg police officers will be required to wear the body cameras.

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