SOMERTON, Ariz. – Your next interaction with officers from the Somerton Police Department is about to change. The department’s patrol officers are now wearing body cameras.
“It’s an extra set of eyes so if anything happens, it’s being recorded,” said Officer Evans of the Somerton Police Department.
Evans has been training with his new body camera for the last three weeks. The cameras are undergoing a month long trial and training period. Officers will be required to follow procedures after that time.
The Somerton Police department has invested $15,000 on 12 body cameras their needed equipment including software.
For now only patrol officers are assigned a body camera and each has their own. They pick it up at the beginning of their shift and set it back down into a docking station when they finish. The footage that was recorded throughout the day is then automatically logged into a digital database.
“Inside the system’s software, it has their name. If we want to see the footage from three days ago for a certain officer, I just go to that specific one and it shows me that date,” said Somerton Chief of Police Benjamin Cotman.
According to Chief Cotman, the city council proposed the initiative as a measure of providing more transparency.
“A lot of time officers are accused of stuff they didn’t do and the camera clears it up.
Sometimes the officers say they didn’t do something and the camera shows they did do it,” said Cotman.
The department says they’ve also adopted new policies to protect the public’s personal information when handling the video footage.
Chief Cotman says they’re currently storing all the footage being recorded. He says they have enough storage space to keep it for the next 2-3 years.