Holding both Duluth police officers and the individuals they encounter accountable may become all that much easier through the use of small, body-mounted cameras.
The Duluth, Minnesota, Police Department has plans to implement the use of this camera technology, which would account for $80,000 in next year’s budget. The camera program is nothing new to the department, however, as it has been testing the technology for nearly three years now. But now, says Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, is the time to take the program to the streets.
Ramsay calls the small, body-mounted cameras “the wave of the future in police work,” but many departments have been hesitant to adopt the new technology because of the cost and durability of the equipment. As such, the Duluth Police Department has been testing a number of models since 2011, most of which are usually worn over the ear, on lapel, or on the glasses of the officer.
Chief Ramsay says that, as a “fairly large department and…a fairly big project,” the department is “on the cusp of a new thing.”
Duluth officers view the camera as offering an unbiased record of police calls, which makes it a valuable piece of technology for officers and for evidence, and it holds the citizens of Duluth accountable for their actions when interacting with the police force.
Although Ramsay notes the large, upfront cost, he says that the costs will be offset down the road, though, simply because the evidence may prevent many cases from going to trial.
The American Civil Liberties Union seems to agree with body cameras, as well, calling them “a check against the abuse of power by police officers.”
Other departments that have begun using them have found them to be valuable tools, although some limitations, such as a short batter life, have limited the capability of the cameras.