The Colorado Springs Police Department says it's beginning widespread use of its body-worn camera program.
The cameras are part of a smartphone device worn on the front of a bullet-proof vest. Most Colorado Springs police wear them, especially those most likely to interact with citizens while on patrol.
Officer Michael Good is with CSPD's tech unit and has been using cameras since the initial testing phase. He says the devices can be useful for more than just recording an interaction.
"Sometimes it actually becomes a tool if you have someone else that is starting to go south on behavior. A lot of times saying, 'Hey, I have it all on tape if you need it.' That sometimes calms them down. It changes the behavior," he says.
The cameras begin recording automatically with certain triggers such as turning on a police vehicle's lights, or when an officer begins to run. Officers can also turn them on manually.
Miranda Smidt is the department's body worn camera evidence technician, which means she's in charge of supervising the video filing system and training officers to use it. She says video evidence is becoming almost required.
"'If it's not on video, it didn't happen,' is almost what people react like, even though that's not true at all. And I like the body worn cameras to show that the officers are doing the right things and the proper things," Smidt says.
The department received a grant from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance to purchase the cameras in 2015, partially in response to events like those in Ferguson, Missouri. CSPD currently has about 440 cameras in use. Since January, police say those cameras have produced about 23,500 videos.
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