Utah police slowly adding body cameras to their uniforms
As police face heightened scrutiny nationwide after controversial officer-involved shootings, law enforcement agencies and the public agree on at least one thing: Body cameras would be a big help.
“That’s the thing of the future,” said Ogden Police Lt. Will Cragun, whose department is testing demo cameras from several manufacturers. “We want to go down this road.”
In Salt Lake County, body cameras are so desired that some Unified Police Department officers have bought them on their own, said UPD Lt. Justin Hoyal. “They use them on the job … for documentation purposes.”
Law enforcement officers may value video for different purposes than the public does. Footage may support or implicate officers whose actions are called into question, but more often it’s used to show subjects’ behavior in other criminal cases, said Brandon Poll, chief of the Davis County attorney’s criminal division. Cams are widely distributed among Clearfield and West Bountiful police, Poll said.
“We use them day in and day out in cases where an interview is caught on a body cam and confirms what the officer says in a report,” Poll said. “It’s helpful for a jury to see the defendant has given three or four stories in just a 5-minute period.”
In a recent case of resisting arrest, the video evidence cut both ways, Poll said. After several Clearfield police captured the arrest on body cams, the footage was used to prosecute one defendant — but cleared a second defendant, whose charges were dropped.
Sounds like a good idea to me.