Rochester PD Experimenting with Body Cameras

Created: 07/07/2014 6:01 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Police in Duluth now have more than just squad car cameras to record their interactions, but “body cameras.” Officers there are now equipped with clip-on cameras that can be turned on by just the push of a button. We wanted to know, will officers in our area be getting the same? Turns out, Rochester Police are already testing them out.
"About 95 percent of police officer’s interactions occur outside of that initial traffic stop," said Capt. John Sherwin with the Rochester Police Department. With the use of "body cameras," gathering footage on the scene may no longer be limited to what's happening near the roads.
"So when they're on scene, they go into a business, or house, or away from the car to deal with a victim or suspect, the cameras are right with them," said Lt Tom Kaase with the Rochester Police Department. The department has had four of those cameras now for the past 6 months as part of a pilot program. Lt. Kaase says he's all for adopting the new technology. "As a supervisor, I most certainly hope so just because of the value that it brings the officer and also the citizens, the community," said Lt. Kaase.
One of the biggest benefits is its use in court. "Any person that's in a jury may see how a victim reacts in those moments after an officer arrives at their house, after they've been assaulted, and that really is a powerful tool," said Capt. Sherwin.
"If they're in court or are using this for evidence, it's like they're right there because they can see everything that's taken place," said Lt. Kaase.
The concerns are mainly privacy and costs. We're told the cameras are roughly $500 and video storage programs are likely an additional $500, but those we spoke with believe over time,  it'll be a cost savings. "In comparison with overtime costs in court, you know that is very easily off set," said Lt. Kaase.
Rochester Police are still doing a trial run of the cameras. They say they don't have a timeline of when they would start using these full-time, if they were to. Though, they believe most law enforcement agencies will adopt some sort of body camera devices in the future.