Kirksville Police Department to embrace body cameras

The idea of the small piece of technology is to make the departments more transparent. (KTVO File)

On Monday, the Kirksville City Council approved the purchase of body cameras for the Kirksville Police Department.

Now, KTVO is learning more about the role the cameras will play.

It's something many law enforcement agencies across the country are moving towards - utilizing body cameras.

The idea of the small piece of technology is to make the departments more transparent.

Kirksville Police Chief Jim Hughes and the department began having formal discussions with city staffers in 2014 to implement the use of the cameras.

Hughes says since that time, much research has been conducted on different cams to see what would work best in Kirksville.

"It's been a long effort. We've learned a lot and I think we are better for that."

In November 2016, the city received bids from 12 companies specializing in body cameras.

That number was narrowed down to 5 vendors, and KPD and city council ultimately decided to go with Axon Enterprises, Inc.

Hughes says that company has been in business for awhile now, and is not one that opened after the events in Ferguson, like many others have.

The Adair County Sheriff's Office also utilizes Axon for its body cameras, so KPD has had a chance to see first-hand how the technology will work.

Hughes says citizens can expect to see officers wearing cameras in the near future.

"At this point in time, we hope to get the body worn cameras and the system and software installed and the cameras here by the end of the year and get them up and running certainly by the end of January 2018."

Hughes told KTVO the cameras will let the community know that KPD is open and comfortable with how it operates.

However, he says the technology may not be the answer for every scenario.

"I want to remind everybody, you know, they think body worn cameras will provide this sterile version of what happens in an event. There's a lot of things that can come into play: cameras can get knocked off in struggles, the body might be looking in a different direction than the head might be looking."

Hughes says that another example depends on where the camera is placed on the officer's body.

He explains that if the camera is on the officer's chest, it may be blocked by their arm if they draw their weapon.

"It's a tool. And I have mentioned that before. It is nothing more than a tool, I think a very important too. But, it is a tool and it's not going to end with any certainty some of the confusion and questions that people have maybe about incidents, but I think it's going to help tremendously."

Officers with the Kirksville Police Department will undergo training once the cameras arrive in the coming weeks.

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