LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – Lockport is the latest city in Western New York to fit its police force with body cameras. City officials believe the cameras will help build trust between the public and the cops.
Police simulated a traffic stop for News 4, with a body cam clipped to an officer’s vest to demonstrate the newest high tech tool they now have at their disposal.
The wide angle lens captured most of the officer’s surroundings, including our videographer shooting the simulation. The audio was also recorded.
Police Chief Lawrence Eggert likes what he is seeing and hearing in the high resolution video, “I’m impressed with the quality of the video, and also the sound.”
Chief Eggert said, if a police incident goes to court, and there is any disagreement over what happened, the attorneys can go to the video.
But Eggert did point out, the body cam video does have limitations, “There are times where it will be really good. There’s other times where we have noticed it cuts off heads, or if there is a windy day, or there is a lot of ambient noise, the voice quality goes down.”
In light of public mistrust with police, and accusations of police misconduct, Chief Eggert says the cameras can help build trust back. although the cameras were on the chief’s agenda before recent incidents in Missouri, Ohio, and New York City.
The chief also pointed out the model they are using has a number of added features, including a night scope.
The chief flipped a switch on the body camera and he put it in infrared mode.
“If we are searching a basement in a building, let’s say, and we don’t have any infrared units,” he said. “You can actually do a search looking at the screen on the back.”
Lockport Mayor Anne McCaffrey likes the body cams, too, because they take some of the uncertainty out of policing, while helping to protect the city from frivoulous lawsuits.
“We want to do everything we can to make sure the citizens know they are being protected, and that the Police Department knows that they’ve got the support, too. So I think it goes in both directions.”
So far, the body cams aren’t costing city taxpayers anything. They are less than $500 each, and they are being paid from asset forfeitures in narcotics seizures.
Lockport has spent about $5,000 to buy 12 cameras, but Chief Eggert plans to eventually have one for every officer.
Police in North Tonawanda are already using body cameras, Niagara Falls has just approved their use, and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office has been using the cameras for years.