The Houston Police Department announced that starting this fall its officers will be equipped with body cameras. Police Chief Charles McClelland says that the department will initially roll out the body cameras to two stations.
“One station on the north side and one station on the south side,” says McClelland . “Those two stations will give us a good indication of how we’re going to bring everyone up very quickly.”
Chief McClelland says that after those two stations, adding body camera’s to the rest of the police department should go very smoothly.
He says that "within a little over a year, anyone in uniform or a first responder position will have a body camera.”
This is not the first time Houston officers will be equipped with body cameras. In 2013, the department field tested the body cameras on 100 officers who said the new tech was a mostly positive experience.
Chief McClelland says he’s looking forward to the body cameras. He says the technology changes the behavior of both officers and citizens.
“My officers who wear them are certainly more professional and accountable,” McClelland says. “When they tell the person they’re dealing with that they have a camera, I’ve actually seen video footage where it changes the person’s demeanor and behavior. They became a lot calmer when they knew everything they’ve said was being recorded.”
The head of the police department also says the cameras have exonerated officers.
“There was one occasion where a person was unaware that the officer had a camera.” he says. “They came down to file a rudeness and misconduct complaint on the officer. When they discovered that the incident was recorded, they got up and left.”
A 2012 survey found that among law enforcement who wear body cameras, more than 85% believe the technology reduces false claims of police misconduct and reduce the likelihood of litigation against police departments.
Chief McClelland says the department doesn’t expect any delays with implementing the body cameras. He says the department will add the new gear to one or two stations every month.
“The public has demanded this,” he says. “We have promised this. I can’t see anyone tagging or delaying this.”