IMPD giving body cameras a test run

INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis police may be sporting body cameras within the next few weeks as the department begins a new pilot program

More than 1,000 departments across the country already use body cameras. If the pilot program goes well, IMPD could be the latest to join their ranks.

For Charles Allen III, accused of battery, a body camera could have been a deciding factor in his court case.

"I told the other officers that these video cameras which are right here will show that it wasn't me," Allen said. "But they wasn't paying no attention to me. They just locked me up for battery on the police. Which I didn't do."

Indianapolis police have thousands of interactions with citizens each day. Within the next two weeks, six police officers will field test body cameras over the course of a one-month trial period.

"Citizens sometimes file a complaint, but with no visual evidence, it's the officer's word against the citizen," said IMPD Sgt. Kendale Adams. "Now we have a third, impartial view of what happened."

Police departments across the state, including in Daleville, which has a population of just 1,600, have been using body cameras to document the actions of their officers.

"It will show a real time reaction to a situation by a police officer," said Ralph Staples, a former deputy prosecutor turned defense attorney. "And yes, it will show some suspects' behavior. But will it solve a problem? Probably not."

IMPD says its body camera field experiment was planned far ahead of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. And while police agencies believe the use of cameras is a good idea, at issue for Indianapolis will be the rules of engagement.

"There's a number of issues, like, what do you need to save? When do you need to start recording?" Adams said. "So, looking at all those little things, that for all intents and purposes don't matter to the community … it matters internally how we look at those things."

Adams said the cameras would cost about $1,000 for each of IMPD's roughly 800 officers.

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