NH1 News Investigates: Cost vs. credibility when it comes to police body cameras
WEARE - Should all police officers wear body cameras?
It's an issue that has been discussed a lot throughout the country, and here in New Hampshire, some agencies already have them.
The Weare Police Department has been using body cameras since September.
"It will capture 30 seconds prior to activating the camera, video only. Once it's turned on it will capture video and audio," said Officer Brandon Montplaisir.
Every traffic stop is recorded, and it has made a huge difference for the officers.
"It takes out the 'he said, she said.' It protects the community - as well as us - from false accusations," Montplaisir said. "It's been very beneficial to collect evidence."
Interim Police Chief Sean Kelly agrees.
"Since the body cameras have gone into the field, the number of police officers that have complaints against them has fallen to zero," Kelly said. "I don't think that's an insignificant consideration for us."
In New Hampshire there are a few departments that have body cameras. It's an issue police departments nationwide have been wrestling with in the wake of several incidents that have made headlines in the last year.
Are body cameras a future innovation for law enforcement? Some state lawmakers think so.
"The public doesn't want to wait nine months to find out or at least be told that the police did their job right when they'd rather find that out right now from the camera footage," said
state Rep. Kyle Tasker.
Tasker is pushing for body cameras to be worn by state troopers.
He said the cameras would cost almost $500,000 the first year, plus an annual expense of $250,000 to maintain them.
A price tag like that has raised a few eyebrows.
"I think that the realities of cost are going to cause at least some pause in the thought process," Kelly said.
Kelly did not know how much it cost the department to get body cameras.
The cost is an issue for the New Hampshire Troopers Association and the Department of Safety.
At a hearing earlier this month, legal counsel David Hilts said now is not the time for the state to be trying to add body cameras to the police force.
"We think it's important that we have a large body of very detailed information for the purpose of shaping policy in light of knowledge of a performance," Hilts said.
Tasker thinks quicker action is needed.
"There is a way to do it without costing anything but it would negate equipping the state troopers."
In addition to cost, there's also the debate about whether the cameras should be eye level or chest level.
The two body cameras bills are not scheduled to be discussed again until early 2016.
The state is looking into how to pay for the body cameras. The bill is not scheduled to be discussed again until early 2016.
Will other departments follow in Weare's footsteps? The debate continues.
Here's a link to the body cameras bill