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Police body cameras create debate - KOAM TV 7

Police body cameras create debate

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PARSONS, KANSAS -

Video footage recorded by police body cameras has recently gone viral across the country. Kansas lawmakers are now re-opening the debate over the requirement of them.

You may have noticed Parson’s Police Officers wearing a small black camera on their lapel but determining the best practices for each community is a tough call to make.

“We have guidelines for specific types of calls, however, if time doesn't allow them to, basically they make sure that the community is safe that they're safe and then they'll activate their cameras based on the time of an unfolding event," says Parsons Police Chief Jason Sharp.

The department implemented the use of the body cameras 3 years ago and so far, police and citizens do see the benefits.

“It’s a little bit more up close and personal that you might not see from an in car camera. So it provides just an added layer of protection for the officer and the community as a whole," continues Sharp.

“We feel like we're separated from the police department because sometimes we don't see what they're doing unless they're going by with the lights flashing but when we see the work that they're doing it lets us know that they are actually doing the work," says Parsons resident Vernon Norris.   

One reason behind Parson's PD having the body cameras is to get the most accurate documentation of the situation. An issue they have run into is just how long to keep the video footage for because once those videos are taken, it becomes public record. This creates privacy concerns for some.

"You see a debate back and forth of where do you have the guiding line between protecting the rights of the community and the citizens, protecting the rights of the victims, and protecting the rights of suspects," says Sharp.

Police add that body cameras aren't a saving grace and can't capture everything an officer sees.
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