Special Report: Armed to Record - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Special Report: Armed to Record

By Alexa Williams
NewsWest 9

Police officers and body cameras have been making national headlines this year. The concern to record officers every move and sound only increased after 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black teen, was gunned down by a white Ferguson police officer. 

We're all familiar with dash cams and how beneficial they can be when investigating a crime or even a simple traffic stop. But they don't catch everything. 

"The car cameras were a great tool when they came out. I think that is one of the best things we did in law enforcement but the problem is not everything is right in front of the car," Seminole Police Chief, Bernie Kraft, said. 

"Unfortunately, a dash cam video only shows in front of their vehicle, it doesn't show everything including if they're in someone's house or if they are on a foot pursuit in a alley," Steve LeSueur, with the Odessa Police Department, said. 

But now, new technology makes it a possibility for officers to be armed to record by using body cameras. 

"Car cameras can record a traffic stop but a body camera will allow you to record those things that are out of view of the car camera," Midland Chief of Police, Price Robinson, said. 

Here in the Basin, it's no secret that there has been an increase in crime. We've also seen a few cases this year of officers taking advantage of their badge. 

"On the accountability side, it's there to record the actions of officers," Robinson said. 

So the question is, will our law enforcement be purchasing this new gear?

"I think for the Midland Police Department body cams are in our future," Robinson said. 

Chief Robinson tells NewsWest 9 the Midland Police Department is hopeful they will be wearing body cameras soon. However, Robinson added it's easier said than done. 

"There are a lot of things to consider like, you know, do they record, the length of the recording, the storage capacity, how do you download the video, how do you store it, how do you retrieve it?" Robinson said.

When it comes down to it, the equipment is expensive. Something the Chief of Police in Seminole knows first hand. Recently, the Seminole Police Department purchased body cameras for their entire force. 

"Roughly each one of these that I have are about $899.00 a piece but you also have to add the back up system and server as well so that also cost a little bit of money," Kraft said.

But Kraft said it's worth every penny. 

"I've seen it over the years protect the careers of officers because when there is an allegation against an officer doing the wrong doing and all of that, well if you have it on tape what actually happened out there instead of he said/she said, you actually got some video evidence," Kraft said.

All it takes is a simple flip of the cover and then the officer is recording every move and sound. The simple piece of equipment can save an officers career or prove a citizens allegations. 

"Body cams won't just benefit police. They are a win/win for everybody. Not only for police but for civilians, Studies have shown in other jurisdictions that have used body cameras that when the body camera's are used, excessive force goes down as well as officer complaints," LeSueur said.

LeSueur added there have been talks of body cams for their department, but just like the Midland Police Department, they say it's expensive.  

"It all comes down to money," LeSueur said. 

Local law enforcement tells NewsWest 9 that body cameras are the new form of policing. With many cities utilizing this new technology already. It's not a matter of if we'll see our boys in blue in the new gear, but when?  For small town Seminole, they're big city mentality has them well equipped for the unpredictable.  

"I believe in always being prepared. You know I come here from a larger agency when I took over the job here in Seminole and policing is policing. You do the best you can for your citizens and if we have a chance to do that with our technology then that's what we need to do," Kraft said.

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