OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -- Police body cameras are one step closer to reality in Overland Park. A city committee voted this week to approve spending more than $400,000 on a recording system for officers.
“There are multiple pieces to John's story,” Sheila Albers said.
Albers still has questions about the night her son, John, was shot and killed by police a year and a half ago. Dashboard cameras showed the teenager backing out of the driveway toward officers as they opened fire. Ever since, she's advocated for more accountability and mental health training for law enforcement.
“What we're trying to do is take my son's life and bring something positive out of something that was really horrific,” Albers said.
Prosecutors called officers' actions justified, though Overland Park eventually settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the family. At the time of the incident, there were no body cameras showing what the officers saw.
“I think all Americans want transparency and accountability,” Albers said.
But that could change soon.
“This has been in the works for several years now,” Frank Donchez, Overland Park's Chief of Police, said. “It really is a matter of transparency and accountability.”
His department is urging the city to purchase 200 body cameras, which can automatically record and store police interactions with the public.
“One of the triggers is when you flip on your lights, it starts recording,” Donchez said.
Overland Park has had cameras in police cars for several years now, but the view from the dashboard doesn't always tell the whole story.
Donchez created a demonstration, showing a driver with an open container that turns out to be empty.
“You're seeing everything that's happening inside the vehicle,” Donchez said.
The chief said that first person perspective provides accountability and transparency, for both the officer and the driver.
“I do believe 99% of our interactions, they're doing the right thing,” Donchez said.
“I think it builds trust,” Albers said.
Albers doesn't know whether body cameras would have kept her son from getting shot.
“I think we still have many steps ahead of us,” Albers said.
But to her, accountability matters.