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Cameras Help Aberdeen Police With Investigations

August 22, 2014, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Cameras Help Aberdeen Police With Investigations
ABERDEEN, SD -

Questions surround a recent officer-involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri and they may continue to linger with different accounts of what happened.

A police captain in Aberdeen says the incident receiving national attention could lead to more departments buying cameras for officers to wear while on duty.

Officers have been wearing cameras more than four years in Aberdeen. The department was part of a trial run for the technology in 2010.

"It's very helpful because there's always a conflict of stories many times in our business and this way is one quick way to resolve those conflicts by viewing the videos and seeing what transpires," Aberdeen Police Captain Jay Tobin said.

The cameras worn by Aberdeen officers capture both images and sound. The video is stored where officers can't tamper with it, so what it shows is what happened.

The videos have helped in court and during investigations.

"We've used the camera many times in complaints that have been lodged against officers for conduct or how they handle a situation," Tobin said.

Tobin says the technology has often cleared officers in Aberdeen. Still, he says it can expose wrongdoing as well.

"Absolutely, it shows both sides. It shows the officers’ conduct and the public's,” Tobin said. “So if there is a problem, it is dealt with."

The department spent close to $100,000 to equip police with the cameras initially. It spends about $30,000 a year to store video. That's an investment Tobin says is well worth it.

"The agencies that have the cameras have found them valuable. I think you'll find that using cameras in law enforcement will be more the normal procedure than not. So I think I can only see the cameras being more used throughout the country on a wider scale than they are now," Tobin said.

With each officer wearing a camera, it offers multiple angles to view an incident. So if three officers respond to a call, investigators can go back and look at the incident from three different perspectives.

Huron's police department has four cameras. Its chief says the technology has been very useful and if he had the money, he'd equip every officer.

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