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Juneau Police Department begins using body cameras

January 1, 2018 GMT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Some Juneau police officers have begun wearing body cameras, with more to come this year.

Five Juneau police officers are currently testing the body cameras, police Chief Ed Mercer said.

Mercer hopes to have all Juneau patrol officers and supervising sergeants trained and using body cameras by the middle of 2018

Officer Alex Smith has worn his for about a month. The body camera, magnetically attached to Smith’s chest, goes along with him when he patrols the downtown area, his primary area of focus, where he has a lot of interaction with the homeless, KTOO-FM reported Friday.

He turns it on every time he has an official contact, which he said could be six to 12 times a day, he said.

The cameras are always recording, Mercer said. Once an officer presses a button on the front of the camera, the camera begins tagging and storing video from a moment a few minutes before the officer pressed the button.

“Because in police work, things happen suddenly,” Mercer said. “Especially when you have cameras where you have to self-activate them. I believe that’s a mechanism put in the camera to help with that.”

The videos are later passed on to a server.

The camera also has a function that allows officers to label the type of event the video covers such as a traffic stop, arrest warrant or theft call.

So far, Smith thinks the body cameras help keep everyone accountable and make their work easier.

“When people know we are recording them as much as they’re recording us, a lot of times that actually helps to de-escalate (the situation),” he said.


Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org