Crime & Courts

All CMPD patrol officers now have body cameras

tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

All Charlotte-Mecklenburg police patrol officers are now trained and equipped with body cameras, a CMPD spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

The body-worn cameras are in use through all 13 patrol divisions, spokesman Rob Tufano said. The final cameras were in place in about the last week.

CMPD purchased about 1,400 cameras and has issued about 1,200 so far. The agency contracted with the Taser company for the devices, with the cost for the equipment, maintenance, licensing and data storage coming to about $5.5 million spread over five years.

CMPD officers first started using body cameras in April.

The Metro and Providence divisions were the first to use them, Tufano said. In addition to patrol officers, canine and airport officers also have been trained and equipped.

The body-worn cameras are required to record a variety of activities, including traffic stops, arrests, use of force, when requested by a citizen during an interaction with an officer, disturbances and when officers are in their vehicle and activate the blue lights and siren.

Officers are not required to disclose they are using the body cams in their interactions with the public.

CMPD is evaluating the initial impact the body cams have had with officers using them in the field, Tufano said. That review is expected to be completed this year, he added, but he did not have a specific time-frame for when that evaluation will be finished.

CMPD is phasing out the use of patrol-car dashcams in favor of the body cameras.

Chief Kerr Putney told the Observer this month that dashcams are obsolete. Using the lipstick-sized body-worn cameras “is going to give you a lot more opportunities to capture (what happened),” Putney said.

In January, Charlotte City Council unanimously voted to buy body cameras for the police. Charlotte officials have said that the body-worn cameras are more effective than dashcams in achieving accountability and transparency.

About a third of all police departments in the country were using body cameras as of 2013, a number that continues to grow.

Adam Bell: 704-358-5696, @abell

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