Police chief on body cameras: ‘The camera doesn’t lie’

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 25, 2014) -- More central Indiana police forces are implementing body cameras and in the wake of unrest in Ferguson, they're likely to be used in even more communities.

Local departments FOX59 spoke to had been looking into the cameras long before Michael Brown's death. West Lafayette Police Chief Jason Dombkowski spent a year researching them and gave them to his officers in September.

"It's simple. It's the slide of a button and it's recording," Dombkowski said.

His officers wear them during their 12-hour shifts, turning them on when they arrive at a call. The reason it took so long to implement them is that he wanted to have a clear policy that took into account privacy issues.

"I think it’s going to be the future of law enforcement," Dombkowski said.

It seems to be the case, as departments across the state add them at increasing rates. Indianapolis will begin testing cameras soon, in conjunction with an efficiency team, Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs said.

"I have been a proponent of officers having body cameras," Riggs said.

As for Dombkowski and his counterparts in Bloomington who also implemented them this year, the cameras make even more sense given their college town environments.

"(Officers are) usually being video (recorded). Somebody has an iPhone out in a bar district," Dombkowski said.

With body cameras, though, the angle is up close and personal, giving an unbiased view of what really happened.

"This piece of equipment tells the true story between two people having an interaction and the camera doesn’t lie," Dombkowski said.

He said he understands why it takes longer, especially in larger departments, since there are multiple options and the cameras cost around $900 each. Still, he believed there was only positive feedback so far about what the cameras can do.

"It’s on the forefront of law enforcement technology right now," Dombkowski said.