August 18, 2013

Police officers in Maine wear cameras like badge

Wilton's chief is among proponents who say the small devices protect officers and the public.

By KAITLIN SCHROEDER Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 2)

If an officer goes to someone's house for a noise complaint, however, and then quietly shoots video while walking around, Hanstein said that could violate privacy.

WEARABLE VS. DASHBOARD CAMERAS

Even in traffic stops, when dashboard cameras typically are used, Wilcox said the wearable cameras are more useful.

She said a dashboard camera captures only partially the traffic stop and the conversation between the officer and the driver. The wearable camera records a full shot of the driver and can strengthen the evidence against a driver who has committed a crime, such as drunken driving.

"You can actually hear the person slurring their speech while they're trying to say the alphabet," Wilcox said.

When Wilcox became police chief in 2011, she said, the department's dashboard cameras were broken, so the department had no way to record.

She said the $850 wearable cameras not only were a versatile recording option, but were the only affordable one compared to cruiser cameras, which can cost $4,000.

Wilcox said the cameras also allow for more comfortable interviews. She said police often record interviews, and instead of having witnesses come to the police station, the officers are able to interview people in their own homes, which is less intimidating.

She said copies of the footage are sent to the district attorney's office and the defendant's lawyer.

Wilcox said the cameras also have cleared up accusations made against her officers on multiple occasions.

"I'll invite the person with the complaint to come down to my office and review the incident," she said.

Wilcox said the recordings give her proof, and not just the officer's word, that the officer was not rude and didn't use excessive force against someone.

"I can see the recording and tell my guys acted with restraint," she said.

Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

kschroeder@mainetoday.com

 

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