Las Vegas (CBS LAS VEGAS) — Following a long and heated debate about privacy rights, Las Vegas Metro Police officers will soon be wearing body cameras on their patrols.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Fiscal Affairs committee unanimously approved the order of the Axon Flex on-officer cameras, which can be installed into sunglasses, or attached to about any part of the officer’s uniform.
“We’re excited to see the results, we think it will help improve our officers’ abilities and also our interactions with the community,” Capt. Michael Dalley told KTNV.
Taser, the company which manufactures the “lightweight, hardly noticeable” 3.2-inch camera, says that the device reduces false complaints, improves the behavior of people engaging police and reduces officers’ workload by providing a seamless account of events from their real-time, point-of-view.
The smartphone-compatible cameras will also be used as evidence in trials where such video can often tell the officer’s side of a story in greater detail than their memory of a past incident.
The Las Vegas Police Protection Association originally opposed the estimated $1.5 million purchase of 400 cameras, but the union reached an agreement with the sheriff that current officers can wear the cameras on a voluntary basis. Much of the cameras’ cost will be covered by grant money.
“There is going to be some limit on the data storage, so if the video would have cleared me against an allegation, but it’s been destroyed, how do I clear myself now? That’s really our concern,” Chris Collins, LVPPA president, told KTNV.
The American Civil Liberties Union has said they hope the cameras are used appropriately and are not turned off when officers don’t want to record possibly incriminating activity. However, metro police say that camera operation will be left to the discretion of the individual officers.
“We are developing a policy that will tell them exactly when to turn it on and when to turn it off they will not have the camera on for the entire 10 hours of their shift,” Dalley told KTNV.
Although Dalley said that data storage runs the risk of becoming expensive, the 200 cameras that have been ordered are set to go into use in mid-February.