Archive for Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Law enforcement officers in Lawrence don’t use body-mounted cameras

August 19, 2014


If you're in Lawrence, don't expect to have your every interaction with a law enforcement officer recorded on video.

The Lawrence Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Kansas Highway Patrol do not use body-mounted cameras. Many people around the country have been calling for the increased adoption of the devices in the wake of the recent shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, which was not recorded, has led to continued protests and rioting in the St. Louis suburb.

Law enforcement officials across the country are increasingly using body-mounted cameras to help prosecute cases and protect against false complaints. They are used in Kansas by such police departments as Topeka, Wichita, Lenexa, Parsons and Merriam, as well as sheriff's deputies in Johnson County.

The three agencies that serve Lawrence all use patrol car cameras and wireless microphones that work even when officers aren't in the immediate vicinity of their vehicles. But that doesn't mean body-mounted cameras won't be a possibility in the future.

"It could very well be a matter of time before that type of technology is ubiquitous," said Lt. Steve Lewis, spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. "For years, there was no video at all."

The Lawrence Police Department just installed new in-car video cameras last year at a significant cost, after the old system kept failing.

"Our primary interest was to get a stable and reliable system for our vehicles," said Sgt. Trent McKinley, spokesman for the police department. "The officers spend a great deal of time in their cars. When they have contact with people, it's often near their vehicles."

McKinley said the police department may look into getting body-mounted cameras as the technology improves. But there are other issues to be worked out, he noted: Should every call be recorded, even, say, police helping a mother with an unruly child? And what happens to the recordings afterward and who gets to view them? "I'm not sure every aspect of every police contact should be recorded," McKinley added.

Lt. Josh Kellerman, spokesman for the Kansas Highway Patrol, said it would be a huge financial undertaking to outfit each of the patrol's 400 officers with a camera and then secure enough server space to save the recordings.

"There's a lot of logistics that would go with that," he said, noting that the Kansas Highway Patrol has considered using body-mounted cameras and likely will again in the future. "It's not just buy the cameras and use them."

But Kellerman said that any kind of recording devices are great tools for law enforcement and the justice system.

"It's for public safety," he said. "It's for the safety of the people we contact. It's also for the safety of the officers."


Chad Collins 3 years, 8 months ago

Shot an "unarmed" man. He also shot an over-aggressive criminal who assaulted a police officer. You forgot that part.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 8 months ago

That part is being debated, regardless of what happened the way the Furgeson Police have handled the situation and release of information they have painted themselves in a very poor light. Heck they left the boys body in the street uncovered for 5 hours.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 8 months ago

Wow the hate dripping off your words strong! When was there a phony forensic pathologist? The President was critical of both side. And if you don't think race plays a roll in all this, it may not have for the cop, then you are just blind.

Juan Brown 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes, completely unarmed. Think about that... An over-aggressive cop had to unload his clip on an UNARMED kid?! Maybe FIVE shots too many when all witness accounts said he was trying to surrender?! The next story will be this kid was strung out on PCP and spitting razor blades... LOL. Ever been shot?! I have... Last thing you do is run TOWARDS the gun... Period. This kid didn't get shot once and run toward the cop. No way... No criminal record and over a box of $45 cigars?! Career criminal swearing never to go back to prison?! Maybe... Kid starting college with no record (yet)?! No way... You believe that, I have ocean front property to sell you in KS.

Brock Masters 3 years, 8 months ago

Not all accounts state he was trying to surrender.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 8 months ago

The police have not yet stated their side of the story, why they are refusing to do so leaves a lot to the imagination.

Juan Brown 3 years, 8 months ago

All the accounts I've seen state the same thing - arms up and trying to give up. It was only after the officer's "friends" came forward and leaked his account that all of the sudden the narrative changed, other 'witnesses' emerged, and now this was some 'hyper aggressive' kid thinking he was superman and impervious to bullets... No pothead or anyone without any police record is going to charge Dirty Harry especially AFTER being SHOT. Weed is not PCP and six shots IS FIVE SHOTS TOO MANY. Now, will come the story that the cop's finger got stuck in the trigger and that the kid had spit in his eye making it impossible to see how many times he shot the kid.

Jason Kent 3 years, 8 months ago

Cameras will protect both sides. Maybe Lawrence could get then instead of purchasing swat trucks....

Brock Masters 3 years, 8 months ago

Or buying overpriced land instead of building on city owned land.

Juan Brown 3 years, 8 months ago

Uh, what do you mean none of the Ferguson incident was recorded? I know of at least one witness who said she recorded it on her phone camera only to say the police seized it. Now, the story is that no video exists?! How convenient.... I thought they weren't releasing it to prevent a uglier riot and now miraculously nothing exists... WOW.

Al Deathe 3 years, 8 months ago

I want to pose a question! What if your boss handed you a body camera that records video and sound and told you to wear it for 8 hours and you you couldnt turn it off for any discussions. How would you feel after all you are working and getting paid by him. What is next, teachers, fireman, probation officers, college professors or daycare provider/babysitters.

Brock Masters 3 years, 8 months ago

Ever hear, this call is being recorded for security purposes. It is not police that are recorded.

Keep in mind police frequently violate civil rights and kill people. Not all killings are unjustified, but some are so it is a good idea to record encounters.

Andrew Dufour 3 years, 8 months ago

Of everyone you listed, the police are the only entities capable of violating the constitutional rights of those they encounter. And are the only ones capable of building a criminal case against individuals where the specifics of how something is seized or how a search is conducted is crucial to the outcome of the trial.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

Our communities are not war zones - Sign This Petition

Last week, local police fatally shot an unarmed African-American 18-year-old named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In the days that followed, there have been massive protests in Ferguson and heavily armed SWAT teams are roaming the streets in response. Our communities are not warzones.

And yet the police, armed to the teeth, treat us like the enemy, especially if we're black, young, poor or homeless. Tanks are rolling through our towns. What will it take for police to start protecting communities of color, not waging war on them?

The Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice are funneling billions of dollars to state and local law enforcement agencies every year to help them purchase military weaponry and equipment. What business do DOD, DHS, and DOJ have funding a war here at home?

With our country’s long history of aggressive policing in communities of color, it shouldn’t surprise us that these wartime tools and tactics are hitting poor and black neighborhoods hardest. To start undoing the damage, the feds need to stop funding this war.

Good policing is about trust, which has been severely eroded through the use of excessive force and police brutality. If police forces across America continue to militarize and treat communities as the enemy, they will increasingly be seen as an occupying army.

Stopping the funding and incentivizing of police militarization is a crucial first step to ending this war.

Sign This petition

Shawn Herrman 3 years, 8 months ago

Our communities certainly are not war zones. I do agree with you on that.

Maybe, if there wasn't riots and looting there wouldn't be a need for a military presence.

Maybe, if this kid listened to the officer he wouldn't be dead.

Maybe, if you stopped living in the past you could call Michael Brown by his name, there is no reason to mention his race. This had nothing to do with race.

Until we stop making everything a race issue we will continue to blame incidents like this on race.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 8 months ago

The Ferguson police have totally helped create the anger, and I think it's been going on long before this incident. I mean, why are there only white guys on this force. I can't believe an Black man or women haven't ever applied. I would be willing to bet if the police would just get off the street, and the media would take their cameras home, the crowds would calm down. When I see Swat teams in all their gear, I want to throw something at them too.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 8 months ago

That and they refuse to give their side of the story, if you have nothing to hide then tell us the police officers side of the story

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 8 months ago

It is common place for police to release their reports after such an incident, heck we know more details of the other person shoot and killed a few miles from where Brown was, but they still have not released the reports from this one.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 8 months ago

The officers right the report immediately following the incidents when a shooting (fatal or not) happen, he reported was filled the night it happened

Mike Ford 3 years, 8 months ago

If one looks at the Wikipedia for Ferguson, Missouri, they will notice a large swing in population diversity in this town between 1990 and 40%....and the town went majority African-American. One can say they're afraid of crime and leave before anything they presume happens which is reactionary. Or they can stay and not leave behind a resentful police department that doesn't represent the changing demographics of said community and have the problem that currently exists. All one has to do is look at the preemptive leaving east of Troost and Prospect before the 1960's and 1970's and seeing the people leaving labeling the area before civil rights took place.

Eric MacDonald 3 years, 8 months ago

In every profession you find quality people performing their jobs at a high level but we can all agree that you will occasionally come across one that does not. If that one is a police officer the damage to the citizen could be significant. It is not appropriate to paint all law enforcement with the same brush because a relative few of their brethren may not uphold the values and traditions of the profession. With that I am in favor of body mounted cameras being used whenever a law enforcement officer is on duty. Having that extra set of eyes protects both the law enforcement officer and the citizen. I think it reasonable to think that the presence of the camera will make for a friendlier interactions between law enforcement and those they make contact with, protect officers from false statements and citizens from those few officers that may be poor performers. There will have to be some policies changes involved with regard to when the cameras must be used and how the data will be stored and for how long. I would also expect a policy that would protect anybody police contact that are not charged with a crime where it would require their approval to release it to the public as it is only public information if charges are filed or something to that effect. Finally, because this will highlight every significant and insignificant mistake an officer makes law enforcement departments will have to have a reasonable matrix for measuring performance of offices and not penalize them for minor oversights or infractions that otherwise would never have been learned of if not for the camera. If any of us had a camera on all day we wouldn't want every little mistake become cause for termination rather than a learning moment. The point of the cameras is to catch the serious mistakes made by the officers and by citizens they make contact with.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 8 months ago

My few interactions with the police have always been positive, so I don't believe all of them are bad. But it is the small percent who are jerks who make the news, unfortunately. But I'm not sure if there isn't a lot of problems with most of this police force, because there seems to be more cover up. And there is one video out there where one Ferguson cop actually pointed a large gun at the guy who was filming him, and refused to give his name. I guess a superior came and made him stand down, and now he's been suspended. I think major changes need to be changed in this department. They have divorced themselves from the community, and that always leads to bad feelings. Listen to Philly's police commissioner. He needs to go in and train them how to run their police force.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 8 months ago

I am stunned and horrified by the comments made on this paper about the Michael Brown murder by the police. I well remember the claims made that "outside agitators" are "riling" up "our people" and should go back home. I give credit to the black people of the south, and the north, who fought so hard for their rights, and for the whites who stood by their side and supported them. Now, it seems that was almost for nothing.

Now we have the same thing starting all over again in Ferguson. Why is this paper printing comments to the effect that it is all right to kill a young black man in broad daylight and then leave his body laying on the sidewalk for five hours uncovered. A dog would have been treated better.

Leslie Swearingen

Nathan Wycoff 3 years, 8 months ago

The kid was 6'4" and weighed 300 lbs. If he had already broken my orbital socket and was charging at me with the intent to cause me more harm, I would most definitely shoot to stop the threat. There is a video out that was recorded on the street right after the shooting on youtube that shows a witness saying that he saw the whole confrontation and saw Michael Brown charging at the officer. The witness in the background of the video was also an African-American. This whole debacle is race bating at it's finest with no evidence supporting the pro Michael Brown side other than from the robbery co-conspirator of Michael Brown.

Terry Snell II 3 years, 8 months ago

It does not matter because law enforcement can edit out any audio they want. My letter to Sheriff Mcgovern confirmed that Douglas County Deputies have the right to edit audio without breaking any policy. Lets start with all audio and video from dash cams cannot be tampered with by anyone.

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