Body cameras becoming more popular with police departments - KCTV5 News

Body cameras becoming more popular with police departments

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One company that produces vest cameras in the Kansas City metro is filling new orders sparked by the unrest in Ferguson and they say business is booming.

Thousands of police departments have been calling Digital Ally in Lenexa, KS, about the hands-free digital police body cameras.

"Now recognizing with recent events that officers need the full story of the video evidence as opposed to civilian video being captured on cell phones and other means," said National Sales Manager Greg Dyer.

At Digital Ally headquarters, workers are packing up and filling orders fast to meet demand. The company is helping out in the aftermath of the recent events in Ferguson.

"We are on the ground doing training and deploying the body cameras for Ferguson," Dyer said.

When Digital Ally first developed the technology to go along with police car dash cameras, they said they had trouble selling departments on the idea.

"It's good for the technology we design and sell. The circumstances that led to it are unfortunate, but it just brought to light the need for this technology in law enforcement," Dyer said.

The group just patented an accompanying device that's now available to activate the body cameras as soon as an officer turns on their lights and sirens.

"Video evidence is indisputable, it is the best evidence in court," Dyer said.

One organization that just deployed the body cameras are campus police at the University of Kansas. They began using them on the first day of classes.

"Are they implementing that on campus? I think it's smart. There's no reason they should be hiding anything they're doing, you know? If they're not doing anything wrong, they have nothing to hide," said Christopher Palmquist, a sophomore at KU.

Palmquist is from St. Louis. He said he feel safe at his university, but also said the cameras are a good idea after what happened near his hometown.

Chris Keary, the assistant chief of police services said the department got the body cameras last year, before any of the recent unrest in Ferguson.

"What we try to do in this department is keep ahead of what the trends are and have the appropriate equipment to make sure our officers are prepared to respond in our community to whatever situation we may have," Keary said.

KU police have been training on the cameras since the summer and know how they can be used in situations that include active shooter training and tackling a suspect.

"It's a way for us to protect both the officer and the citizens we encounter so we record what's going on so, when it comes to the courts, there's no question what's happening," Keary said.

"It could be negative and positive. It's kind of an iffy issue," said KU sophomore Tiffany Tsui. "For me, I feel like it could help tell both sides of the story to what's going on and what the situation is."

University police have eight of the body cameras and say they turn them on before any confrontation or incident that involves criminal activity.

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