LITHONIA, Ga -- DeKalb County Police are using new technology that may have a huge impact on the prosecution of cases. It's a 2-inch mini digital camera that officer clip to their shirt pocket. With the click of a button they can record video and sound of an arrest.
The cameras may be the smallest piece of equipment an officer carries, but it could have the biggest impact on what they do. The cameras are not only a crime fighting tool; they are also a training tool. "We get to check to see if policies and procedures are being met and use it as a training tool if we see something that the officer should have done a little differently," said Captain Sonya Porter. "We can address all those issues with it."
The cameras can record up about two hours of video, according to Capt. Porter. She said officers like it because it gives them protection against unfounded claims. "They appreciate the fact that it's indisputable," she said. "If someone is filing a complaint on them this could justify the behavior of the officer or the citizen."
DeKalb officers have been using the cameras since May. They have been recording arrests and then downloading them to a computer. The videos are then copied to disk and put into evidence and eventually used in court.
Use of the cameras is encouraged but not mandatory while the department tests them out. Patrol officer J. Strickland likes the cameras because he says they protect him as well as the people he stops.
"If we handle it (an arrest) improperly, then we're held accountable for our actions," he said. "As well as if they said something that shouldn't have been said, then they're held accountable for their actions as well."
Captain Porter said the cameras will have the biggest impact on domestic violence cases. "Because a lot of times the victims of domestics out of fear retract their statements," she said. "This is not retractable."
You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kgrowson