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April 21, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Bremerton police to test wearing video cameras

The Associated Press

BREMERTON — Police expect complaints against officers will decline if officers wear video cameras that record every encounter, Chief Steve Strachan recently told the City Council.

The department expects to receive cameras next month that two officers will test as the department makes a final decision about wearable cameras, the Kitsap Sun reported Sunday.

Each camera costs about $500 and can be attached to a uniform collar or glasses.

The act of recording can change a situation, the chief said.

“We do tell people they’re being videotaped,” Strachan to the Council. “And it usually changes their behavior.”

Some other departments have already started to adopt wearable cameras. It would be a big upgrade for Bremerton, which has never used dash cameras in patrol cars. Bremerton has about 60 officers.

Cameras provide a record that can verify or refute complaints against officers, said Capt. Jim Burchett. They also can contribute to evidence collection.

Bremerton considered a few different cameras, including ones officers wear on their chests. Those cameras were often ineffective because an officer holding a gun blocks the camera’s view, Burchett said. Cameras worn at head level have the best vantage point.

Cameras will be a law enforcement standard in the future, Burchett expects.

“Five, 10 years from now, if you’re an agency that doesn’t have this, you’ll be the outlier.”

Comments | More in Government, The Blotter | Topics: body cameras, Bremerton Police Department, Steve Strachan

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