ST. LOUIS - There's a growing trend in police departments nationwide, and it's making its way through the Midwest. More police officers in the metro are wearing body cameras. Three departments in our area already use them, and St. Louis County could be next.
The AXON Wearable Cameras are small. Officers can wear them on their collar or attach them to their sunglasses. Wentzville's police chief calls them the best thing since sliced bread.
"With the camera that's attached to the officer, you can now capture video wherever the officer goes, under any circumstances," said Lt. Emmanuel Borroum. "It's for officer safety as well. And also evidence gathering."
Officers turn them on and off with a controller that they keep in their chest pocket. The company that makes the cameras and handles the storage says they reduce the number of false complaints. Lt. Emmanuel Borroum agrees.
"The video captures actually what went down, actually what was said. And it really helps with exonerating officers from false complaints," he said.
Wentzville got them two years ago. They're now standard issue for every patrol officer. Columbia and Sikeston have them too, and St. Louis County Chief John Belmar says they're strongly considering them.
"These are expensive. And it's not only buying the cameras for the officers that are expensive. But the real cost is the catalog and the maintenance of that and how we retain those in case we get inquiries where we have to review them," Belmar said.
He plans to buy the cameras with money seized in criminal investigations. Borroum says it's money well spent.
"We presently have 14,000 videos, and we're presently using only half of our allotted storage space," he said.
Evidence.com says these cameras decrease the use of force and improves the behavior of suspects and quality of evidence gathered.
The ACLU sent us a statement in favor of the cameras saying most police do things properly, and if they are, a video recording is proof.