KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Police officers in Kansas City Kansas, will now be wearing a body camera that records video of an officer’s interactions. The department says it’s to protect the officer as well as the public.
“When she wants to record, she will press the button right there and the red light will come on,” KCK Officer Tom Tomasic said while demonstrating the body camera.
Once the body camera is activated, it will record and save video, plus the one minute of video before it turned on. All officers on patrol, community policing, traffic and detectives will join the SWAT team wearing the cameras at all times.
“If they walk up to a citizen just wanting to talk, the citizen can say, ‘Hey I don’t really want that on.’ Officers have that discretion to turn it off. Otherwise if they are investigating, it stays on,” Tomasic said.
The department will save all videos for at least four months and longer if there’s criminal evidence. The body camera is linked to a forward facing camera, a panoramic camera and a back seat camera in the officer’s cruiser. When officers turn on their emergency lights, all four cameras turn on. The cameras will activate, in many cases, even if the officer is out of the car.
“As long as you are within 100 feet of your car and you turn your body camera on, those cameras will also activate,” Tomasic said. “If you get out and you get into a scuffle you are going to get a lot more views.”
KCK police believe the body and in-car cameras will help collect evidence, promote accountability, transparency and prevent criminal activity on both sides of the lens.
“We don’t want the bad police any more than the public does,” Tomasic said. “And on that side, we hope the public says, ‘Oh, I am being recorded now, maybe I should tone it down a little bit.’”
To request more information or a virtual presentation about the KCK camera program, email email@example.com.