Police body cameras helping stop domestic violence

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police body cameras may help change the way domestic violence cases are handled in court.

Shelters here are eager for police to become equipped with the video recording systems.

Victim advocates say body cameras can help ease the trauma for survivors.

That’s because going to court to face their abuser and testify against that person about a life-changing event in their relationship can be a traumatic process for women.

Police in Australia already are considering using body cameras to record on-the-spot statements from victims that can be used as evidence and take the place of victims having to relive a frightening experience in court.

A counseling psychologist at Synergy Services says her shelter supports anything that makes it easier for victims.

“Having live footage from the scene reduces trauma for the victim so she doesn’t have to retell her story and increases the likelihood that the offender will be accountable for their behavior, which we want,” said Sara Brammer, family violence services director for Synergy. “If that works, that’s great.”

Police say body cameras can capture raw emotions and show how perpetrators are interacting with everyone around them, helping judges understand what exactly happened. It may not prevent a victim from being cross examined in court, but often when there’s video evidence of a crime, defendants are more likely not to fight the charges or make a deal to avoid a trial.

Kansas City police currently are reviewing bids to outfit all their patrol officers with body cameras and install new dash cams in police cars. City leaders have not yet determined how to pay the multi-million dollar cost.

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