Denver police officers may join their Fort Collins and Lone Tree brethren and begin wearing video cameras. This is a shift for the department which, along with State Patrol, does not use dashboard cameras.
But many law enforcement agencies across the country, including Fort Collins and Lone Tree in the metro area, are embracing video/audio technology to record their interactions with the public.
Advocates say cameras can help secure convictions in court. They also offer protection to officers against false claims as well as keeping the officers more accountable. A judge this summer ordered New York police officers to wear body cams to help restore public confidence after their stop-and-frisk practices came under fire. The cameras are about the size of a deck of cards could offer them protection in court.
A group of 20 officers who patrol Fort Collins’ downtown bar district, often on foot, started wearing a Taser-brand model last year to document their interactions with sometimes-drunken citizens. The results were so positive that they have planned to attach cameras to 40 more officers next year. The department paid about $181,000 for its 60 cameras and associated storage.
So far this year, the Fort Collins’ downtown unit has received no complaints, in 2012, there were six. Officers from the unit also are spending less time in court.
Denver tried body cameras in a 60-day pilot program two years ago that yielded few conclusions. The department hopes to do another trial within the next six months to learn what it would take to outfit some of its 1,398 officers. There’s no money in the current budget specifically for cameras.