Two Green Country police departments are fitted with high-tech camera systems. Bixby and Claremore Police Departments now have digital video recorders in their squad cars. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports they could save taxpayers money.
Claremore has spent about $124,000 on its camera system so far. Most of the money came from sales tax, but police say the benefits of getting evidence on tape and protection from lawsuits are invaluable.
Each car has two cameras, one pointing out the windshield to record what happens in front of the officer's car and one that shows the officer and the passenger seat.
"It records continuously, however it doesn't save that data until officers trigger the recorder or activate overhead equipment or has a crash. It has crash sensors in it, too," said Claremore Assistant Police Chief Stan Brown.
From the moment it's triggered, it records everything 60 seconds before that and stores both video and audio. The biggest benefit is to capture evidence on tape, which makes a stronger case in court. A side benefit is protection from potential bogus lawsuits which has already happened twice.
"A female accused an officer of inappropriate behavior but the video clearly disputed it. Again, that saved us. We anticipate, it's already saved money and will save us money," said Claremore Assistant Police Chief Stan Brown.
Sergeant Milburn Litterell has cameras in his car and says this system is so much more convenient to use than the old systems.
Each time an officer pulls into the police station, everything that's been recorded is automatically uploaded to the server. Each car holds about four gigabytes, which is about four hours worth of tape. The tapes are great for training officers on professional behavior, but the officers' favorite part is having the facts right there for all to see.
"For evidence collection, it's just the best thing I've seen out there," said Claremore Police Sgt. Milburn Litterell.
Claremore has four more squad cars to outfit, and then all the cars will be covered.
Another great feature of this system is mapping. For example, if an officer is pursuing someone and that suspect throws drugs or a gun out the window. The officer hits a button which flags the video. When they look at it, GPS will show them exactly where to go retrieve that evidence.