DENVER (CBS4) – They’re the newest transparency tool for the Denver Police Department — body cameras.
“As I turn my head, it’s scanning and looking at whatever I’m looking at,” detective Tony Weathersby told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.
Body cameras allow officers to record potentially volatile situations. Now the funding may be there for wider use.
On Monday Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced his 2016 proposed Denver budget, a plan that includes $1.4 million to purchase additional body cameras.
The mayor says the money will eventually allow every officer who comes in contact with the public to wear the cameras.
The goal is to protect both sides.
“Nearly all police officers who interact with the public are equipped with this important tool to increase transparency and reduce use of force incidents,” said Hancock.
Under the plan, 800 officers will receive the cameras. The District 6 gang unit will receive the first batch of cameras later this year.
The Denver Police Department is hoping the body cams will put an end to future high profile controversies, like the shooting of Jessica Hernandez. In January, Denver police shot and killed the 17-year-old as she allegedly drove a stolen car towards an officer.
Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson believes in that case, body cameras would have provided indisputable video evidence.
“It takes any of the questions about what I said, what I did, what transpired, it’s right there for you to look at,” explained Jackson.
He says after some initial bumps during the pilot program, officers eventually embraced the program.
The cameras will be activated anytime an officer is involved in a police action with a citizen. Jackson says the video is designed to showcase the “new” Denver Police Department.
“We’re glad the budget has allowed us to move forward, and we feel like this is the future,” he said.