Critics Say They Are An Invasion Of Privacy

Capt. Cory Christensen wears one of the cameras. (credit: CBS)

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – The Fort Collins Police Department is one of the first in the state to start using body mounted video cameras during patrols.

Many police department use police squad car dashboard cameras to document police activity, but having a camera attached to an officer’s outfit while on duty is a relatively new concept. The eye-level cameras are meant to be used for evidence and for accountability.

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Some of the cameras were deployed in August 2012, but the department plans to add 60 of them to officers’ uniforms soon.

“The officer gets to have an unbiased third eye that they get to carry with them,” police spokesman Capt. Cory Christensen said. “It will catch an event from start to finish.”

Christensen says a strict operating policy will prevent any misuse by the officers.

“We have a policy in place that gives direction to the officers on when you turn it on and turn it off.”

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Critics say the fact that the cameras have on and off switches raises concerns.

“Police officers might be able to turn them off when their behavior is questionable,” said Cheryl Distaso with the Fort Collins Community Action Network.

Distaso says the use of the cameras could be considered an invasion of privacy.

“Police officers enter people’s homes. They enter their personal space. And there is no way to opt out,” she said.

Distaso said it’s a concern that the police policy regarding the cameras was crafted without public input.

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The plan to bring in the additional cameras will cost $181,000. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan on Nov. 5. If approved, the additional cameras could be in use in early January.