Video and audio recordings aid in investigations
PROSPER – The ubiquitous proliferation of mobile devices designed to capture the day-to-day events of our lives on video has entered the world of law enforcement, and not in a negative way, says Prosper Police Chief Doug Kowalski.
“The vast majority of interactions between the police and the public are completely benign,” he said. “But, that one time when there’s a dispute over what exactly transpired during a traffic stop or a domestic encounter or use of force situation makes these cameras indispensable.”
The Prosper Police Department has outfitted every officer with what is commonly referred to as a body camera. These recording devices, usually worn at chest level, can record both audio and video input, and are not equipped with editing or deleting capability.
The audio and video files containing the input from the body cameras are monitored and reviewed by supervisors and the footage is maintained for use in investigations, court proceedings and, in some cases, general distribution.
“The nature of an unaltered recording through a body camera is such that we can essentially be a third party witness to any encounter,” said the Chief. “Using video evidence, we can make appropriate decisions on the veracity of statements, allowing us to avoid unfairly implicating someone based solely on oral testimony.”
In addition to recording interactions between the police and the public for review, the body cameras can also be used to gather data and information which can prove valuable in training for specific circumstances. Moreover, eyewitness accounts at the scene of crimes or accidents can be recorded for later review.
Officers wearing the new cameras were briefed on their use by supervisory personnel and underwent an extensive orientation session on their use.
“One need only watch the evening news to see that these types of recording devices can make an incredible difference in the outcome of a stressful situation,” added the Chief. “Combining the dash cameras with the body cameras gives us more tools with which to elevate the professionalism of our interactions and decision-making.”
The Prosper Police Department has consistently scored exceedingly well in the annual racial profiling reports submitted to the Town Council. These reports are available for public review.