City approves purchase of police body cameras

ST. GEORGE – Last year the St. George Police Department began to use body cameras on a trial basis as it searched for the best model to suit its needs. Last week the St. George City Council approved the purchase of 75 body cameras for the police force.

An example of the body-worn cameras produced by Reveal. The St. George Police Department will be receiving 75 of these cameras following the City Council's approval to purchase them for $80,000, photo taken Jan. 6, 2015, location unknown | Photo courtesy of Reveal Media, St. George News
An example of the body-worn cameras produced by Reveal. The St. George Police Department will be receiving 75 of these cameras following the City Council’s approval to purchase them for $80,000, photo taken Jan. 6, 2015, location unknown | Photo courtesy of Reveal Media, St. George News

“The camera before you today is the best camera for us,” St. George Police Chief Marlon Stratton said Thursday during the council meeting.

The new body cameras and associated systems are running the city $80,190 and are being purchased from a company called Reveal.

“We’re excited to get these cameras to every officer out there,” Stratton said.

Features on the camera include an adjustable camera head and an LED screen that will show an individual they are being recorded. Stratton said he liked the latter feature because he believes everyone generally behaves better when they understand they’re being recorded.

Stratton anticipated that the general roll out and implementation of the new body cameras could take a month or more once they arrive.

“We think it’s worth it to protect our officers and show what’s happening to our citizens,” City Manager Gary Esplin said.

With the use of the cameras also comes the need to bring on a new, full-time employee who will manage the data and documentation they produce, Esplin said. This will include learning how to address privacy issues and requests from media for footage.

“It’s going to be a learning process for us,” Esplin said.

Earlier this year the Utah Legislature passed a bill providing minimal guidelines for the body cameras used by law enforcement. The bill also amended the state’s public records laws to account for situations when privacy is a concern, such as when video is shot in someone’s home.

St. George Police interviewing witnesses of an alleged aggravated robbery, St. George, Utah, April 12, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
St. George Police investigating a potential crime scene, St. George, Utah, April 12, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

When interviewed last year about body cameras the police had begun to use, Sgt. Sam Despain said the cameras were really just another tool to aid officers.

“A picture is worth 1,000 words, and often times that footage can help in explaining what happened,” Despain said. “So we feel this is a valuable tool.”

Using cameras in their work is nothing new for the St. George Police Department, as they have employed dash-cameras in their vehicles over the last two decades.

Body cameras are becoming an increasingly common tool for law enforcement in recent years.

While aiding in investigations in general, body camera videos can also help determine if an incident like an officer-involved shooting was considered justified or not, or show if officers may have acted in way unbefitting of the badge they wear.

“I receive complaints periodically on officers,” Stratton said. “It would sure be nice to pull a camera and see exactly what happened.”

The chief added: “We think (the cameras are) going to show what a great Department we have and how great our officers do their jobs.”

Other police agencies in Washington County that use body cameras include the Santa Clara-Ivins and Washington City police departments. Among law enforcment The St. George Police Department is the largest law enforcement agency in the county.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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11 Comments

  • ladybugavenger July 25, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Audio would be good too so you can hear who provoked whom….just sayin’

    • Brian July 26, 2016 at 9:11 am

      “A picture is worth 1,000 words” is just a figure of speech. These cameras record HD video and audio.

    • .... July 26, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Good way to spend tax payers money. we have enough bike trails., and I think it’s a great tool for the police officers out there. anything that enhances the police officers safety I’m for

      • Real Life July 26, 2016 at 11:36 pm

        Nobody here cares what you are for. You are an idiot.

        • .... July 27, 2016 at 9:43 am

          Awwwwww look everybody. Real Low Life took time from his family reunion with his Aunt Hilly and Uncle Bill and Cousin Bernie just two come in and say hello. …. that was so sweet of him two do that for me.. love you two sweetie pie !

  • radioviking July 25, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Good! This is a win-win for everyone!
    The police and the citizens need good evidence for support in various situations. When a police officer is handling a case correctly, the criminal has more evidence against her/him.
    And when a police officer is in the wrong, the citizen will have supportive evidence to clear her/his records and avoid needless jail terms and false accusations or reports.

  • Ron July 26, 2016 at 11:08 am

    So, the next time you are stopped in St. Geezy…remember….”smile, you’re on….” well, you know the rest.

    • ladybugavenger July 26, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      Does that mean women are going to have duck lips every time they get pulled over? LOL!

  • .... July 29, 2016 at 5:08 am

    You can bet Real Low Life will have his lipstick on

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