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Fort Collins Police Hold Meeting Over Officer Body Cameras

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By Lauren DiSpirito
CBS4 Northern Newsroom Reporter
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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Thursday evening residents can tell Fort Collins Police Chief John Hutto and members of his staff what they think about the body-worn cameras being used by officers on duty throughout the city.

Hutto plans to answer questions about the new technology and address what he calls misconceptions about the devices.

“Some of the misconceptions are that this is some a ‘Big Brother’ type thing, or in some way clandestine surveillance,” Hutto said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The Fort Collins Police Service first started using body worn cameras in August 2012. Hutto says the cameras offer another perspective of officers’ encounter and are treated just like any other piece of evidence that is collected.

“It’s an unbiased record of the event,” he said.

Late last year, city council approved $182,000 in funding to cover program costs, including the purchase of 40 additional cameras. Hutto said Thursday the cameras won’t be put into service until early summer as the department waits on technology upgrades to receive newer models. In total, he plans to have 60 individual body worn cameras for officers to use.

Members of the Fort Collins Community Action Network want to see the standard operating procedure that guides the use of such cameras changed, saying they find “gaps” in the current rules.

“We just want to make sure that they are filming everything,” group member Kevin Cross said. “Not just things that reflect well on them.”

Cross says the cameras’ on and off switches give officers an unfair option to “edit on the fly” and decide when and what they’ll record. He also wants officers to be required to announce that they are wearing the device.

“We want to make sure the public knows it’s being filmed,” Cross said.

Hutto said Thursday he planned to address those concerns at the meeting. He also said officers will be held accountable to explain when and why they chose to turn off the cameras.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Coloradoan Community Meeting Room at 1300 Riverside Avenue in Fort Collins.

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