Commanders give positive review to body camera program - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Commanders give positive review to body camera program

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Colorado Springs Police Officers have worn body cameras for a full year now Colorado Springs Police Officers have worn body cameras for a full year now

It's been one year since the Colorado Springs Police Department implemented its body camera program. Commanders updated the media Friday about their progress and discussed some of the things they've learned along the way. 

On the whole, their review was positive. However, there have been occasions where officers have forgotten to turn on or turn off the camera at appropriate times.

Commander Pat Rigdon, who oversaw the roll-out of the body camera program, told reporters he really likes the angle that they record from. In a demonstration video he showed that even when the officer had their gun drawn, the lens showed a wide enough perspective that the actions of the suspect remained visible.

Chief Pete Carey said the new video evidence has been critical in reviewing use of force complaints and the two officer involved shootings this year.

"We're finding that body worn cameras can speed up the investigative process by helping us figure out exactly what happened, what was said and much faster in some of the cases," Carey said.

District Attorney Dan May told reporters the video is also convincing evidence at trial. He recalled asking jurors about the video they presented during a recent hit-and-run conviction.

"The jury convicted her of hit and run, a Class 3 Felony in that particular situation," May said. "In talking with the jurors later, some of them found that body cam invaluable in deciding what her intent was and her demeanor was."

Still, there was a learning curve for officers who were first issued the cameras. Commander Rigdon said officers would occasionally forgot to start the recording in time.

"I think our officers are getting better at turning it on a lot sooner," Rigdon explained. 

The system uses a lot of automation.  Recordings will begin anytime the light bar is activated or the driver door is opened on a police cruiser. Also, a gyroscope inside the camera causes a recording to begin if an officer starts running.

Officers can manually turn the cameras on and off by use of a remote attached to their belts or by simply double tapping their chest. District Attorney May recalled a few instances where officers forgot to stop the recordings leaving prosecutors and defense attorneys with a little more than they wanted to see.

"We've had some situations where they go to a lunch break, they may still have the camera on and as they pay with their credit card, and you can see their credit card on the camera itself or we've had situations where officers forgot to turn it off and they've gone into the bathroom."

There are currently some 480 cameras in use, which is enough for all of the patrol officers. Commander Rigdon said the department plans to issue an additional 20 cameras to some of the more specialized units over the next few months.

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