After two months of testing to remove the kinks and find an effective attachment for uniforms, the officers of the Thomson Police Department are now wearing body cameras to help protect them when interacting with citizens.
According to Thomson Police Chief Anson Evans, the cameras, which the department has had for a significant time, have not been regularly worn because the clip would not keep the camera attached to the uniform. The department recently found the proper magnetic mount and the officers tested the cameras in a variety of ways.
The mounts were successful and the police officers are now wearing body cameras to reduce complaints and increase transparency with citizens, Evans said.
“The guys already know that the cameras have to be on when they get out of the cars, such as during traffic stops, any time they go to a call or with incidents dealing with the public and any use of force,” the chief said.
The cameras will help reduce complaints and increase transparency with citizens, Evans said. “Body worn cameras improve evidentiary outcomes, enhance officer safety, and improve the interactions between police officers and the citizens we serve,” he said.
Evans said wearing the camera is a department policy and a police officer that violates the body camera policy could be suspended or fired.
“The cameras will help reduce frivolous complaints and for officer safety in the use of force they are involved in and as an evidentiary tool that can capture elements of a crime scene,” the chief said. “The main purpose is to protect the officer,” Evans said. The footage will be stored for use when needed, he said.
Evans said the cameras are a critical addition to the department’s equipment tools. “It is a great piece of equipment to have.”
The chief noted that department officers requested body cameras to counter complaints from citizens. “They wanted protection against frivolous complaints.”
Evans said the cameras have already proven to be an important tool during traffic enforcement operations, problem-solving, and community engagement strategies within the City of Thomson.
In addition, Evans is increasing the department’s numbers. Since October, three new police officers have joined the ranks, making it a total of 16 officers working to serve and protect the citizens.