Police stay safe and honest with body cameras

From staff reports

From staff reports

Body cameras are currently being brought into the world of law enforcement to protect both the integrity of the accused and the officer, including here in Pullman.

Pullman’s city council recently approved a contract between TASER International and the Pullman Police Department to receive additional body cameras among other equipment.

“In December of 2012, we purchased body-worn cameras for all patrol staff,” Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said. “We have since purchased additional cameras for detectives, reserve officers, and code enforcement officers.”

Jenkins said he believes city council approved the contract because it understands the numerous benefits body cameras provide to everyone in the Pullman community, including a more efficient criminal justice process, transparency with the community, and officer complaint resolution.

Use of force, officer conduct and situation tactics can be reviewed and evaluated for training. 

Discussion of the contract with TASER International has been ongoing for the last couple years and Jenkins has been buying equipment and services from TASER in incremental amounts, he said.

The continued purchase of body cameras from TASER International will help law enforcement produce more accurate reports, Jenkins said.

“We have a more robust method of reviewing use of force by officers, ensuring our use of force policies are carried out,” Jenkins said. “Complaints against officers can be resolved quickly and accurately.”

The contract with TASER International solely involves the Pullman Police Department and does not include Washington State University’s police department. They are separate entities.

Body cameras come with some challenges, such as requiring an ample amount of time for video management, Jenkins said.

“There is a lot of staff time required to manage the videos,” he said. “Officers must tag and classify all video, establishing retention periods based on state law.”

The Pullman Police Department has obtained more than 8,700 hours of footage since March 2013, which is available upon a public records request.

Reporting by Darold Lee Bivens