CAMDEN, N.J., (CBS) — In Camden, watch is being kept not just overhead but at ground level.
“I’ve been wearing this for approximately two months now,” said Tyrrell Bagby, an officer with the Camden County Police Department while on a walk around town with Eyewitness News.
He’s part of their pilot body camera program.
“I advise them that they are on camera and they are totally fine with it,” he said.
“There are a lot of incidences where I feel they turn them off, they turn them on. Just leave them on,” said Camden resident Monique Johnson.
That is exactly the kind of input that the department is looking for before they embark on a full rollout.
“If a person doesn’t want it to be recorded should the officer be compelled to turn it off? Should the officer be compelled to tell the person they are being recorded? These are the types of questions that we are seeking the answers to get the sense of what the flavor in our community is,” said Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson.
In Glassboro officers have been wearing cameras for the past year. There, Police Chief Alex Fanfarillo says they have been nearly as powerful of a tool as Tasers in both assisting police officers and assuring officer accountability. These benefits have been balanced by the logistics of dealing with the volume of data that needs to be stored once an officer’s shift is done and the influx in requests by the public to obtain copies of the footage following encounters.
With all the OPRA requests with all the Common Law requests, all the commonlaw requests, with the fact that you have to keep in on there. Once you mark tag and flag the reports you have to match it up with video. Its a very large task,” said Fanfarillo.
He adds that they have already shifted responsibilities of those in the office to account for this extra work, and are considering making another hire who will focus their duties on this new collection of camera data.
“I think everyone acts better when they are being recorded. The public and the officers themselves,” said Thomson.
The bottom line, it’s a two way street and if Officer Bagby happens to be patrolling that street, so is his camera.
“When people see that you have a camera on you, what is their reaction?” asked reporter Alexandria Hoff.
“I’d say it’s very positive. It’s a situation in which there hasn’t been a lot of negative.. in fact,. there haven’t been any negative encounters. They look at the camera then look at me and it’s smooth sailing,” said Bagby.
The public survey regarding the cameras is being conducted through the NYU Police Project and can be found on the Camden County Police homepage.
In addition, several town hall meetings have been scheduled for the community to provide input. One of those will be held Thursday at 5:30pm at the Kroc center in Camden.