Greenwood police equipped with wearable cameras - KCTV5

Greenwood police equipped with wearable cameras

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Police officers are pretty much on their own when they are out in the field. But in one small town, there is now an extra set of eyes when officers arrive at a scene, recording everything from the officer's perspective. Police officers are pretty much on their own when they are out in the field. But in one small town, there is now an extra set of eyes when officers arrive at a scene, recording everything from the officer's perspective.
GREENWOOD, MO (KCTV) -

Police officers are pretty much on their own when they are out in the field. But in one small town, there is an extra set of eyes when officers arrive on the  scene, recording everything from the officer's perspective.

Greenwood, a population 5,300, is not a town one might expect to be on the cutting edge of technology.

But inside the police department, tiny cameras are doing things the big guys like Kansas City can only dream of.

"We're able to spot evidence, even in the videos. Every once in a while we'll see something in the vehicle that the officer didn't see. So they're great for us," Greenwood Police Chief Greg Hallgrimson said.

Whether it is for training, DWI arrests or investigating domestic assaults, the cameras, clipped to an officer's vest, have become an invaluable asset since they phased in last August.

"If there's any dispute later, or somebody recants on the statement that they give, we have it right there on video," Hallgrimson said.

He adds a cell phone camera in just about everyone's hands now means that anyone they encounter could be recording them.

"As opposed to somebody filming us doing something, now we have our own film that's going to completely cover everything we need to from a legal standpoint," Hallgrimson said. "You're going to hear exactly what he hears and see what he sees."

The officer turns it on, and the chief says they should stop it as soon as the scene is over. But the officer is in control of how it works.

That has raised some questions at a nearby restaurant, Papa Lou's BBQ, where owner Dana Gibbs hopes officers won't just hit mute when they want to.

"[If] it's used appropriately and not to the officer's advantage at any time, then it would be a good thing," Gibbs said.

To Hallgrimson, it is just another tool, like a dash cam, and one that makes his officers more secure on the job.

"[It is used] to protect the officers, to protect the crime scene and to document evidence," he said.

Right now, Greenwood has seven of the cameras.  They are $900 each, paid for through the general budget, and the department is hoping to get more.

Hallgrimson says he also has heard from people as far away as Los Angeles County wanting to learn about the cameras and consider them too, so there could be a lot more of them coming out on the streets.

The Kansas City Police Department said the cameras may be cost prohibitive for a department that large, though they're considering it.

Lenexa police do use them - with one each for all 85 officers. That's more than $76,000, paid for through budgeting and some grants. Police there say they've been very useful for collecting evidence.

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