Most VPD officers wearing cameras now while on the job

Published 11:32 pm Friday, February 26, 2016

Local police officers will soon be 100 percent equipped with body cameras. The cameras are making their way into daily use by all uniformed Vicksburg police officers.

The VPD is assigning cameras to officers about seven at a time each week and started doing so about three weeks ago. The idea is to implement the cameras over time to avoid mass technical problems and to get each officer properly trained.

“They’ve been working fine,” Vicksburg police chief Walter Armstrong said.

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He said the department has about 15 more cameras left to distribute.

“I expect we’ll probably have them all out by next week,” Armstrong said.

He said the cameras have already shown their worth in proving what happened during certain incidents that would not have been witnessed by him otherwise.

“We’ve been able to vindicate some officers on statements that have been made,” Armstrong said.

There were two occasions recently where officers were accused of speaking inappropriately to citizens where the camera proved nothing of the sort ever happened. Armstrong also said he witnessed a confrontation where he did think the officer spoke out of turn, and he was able to deal with the matter better by having video.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Armstrong said.

He said the police vehicles have been armed with dashboard cameras for years, but the body cameras give incite into every encounter the officers have in any location. Armstrong is satisfied with the body cameras’ audio and video recordings.

“We’re very pleased with the quality of the sound as well as the picture,” Armstrong said.

The battery life of the cameras lasts about four hours. He said the battery has to be changed about three times in a 12-hour shift, which has not been an issue for the officers.

“That’s not a problem because we have an extra battery in the car and the batteries can charge up within the hour,” Armstrong said.

He is pleased that there have been no technical issues with the cameras, but he said its still early and is prepared for anything that could happen.

“We’re still in the testing period,” Armstrong said.

About a month ago the Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed on a comprehensive policy and procedure to allow the previously purchased body cameras to be implemented into the police department.

The cameras were purchased with seized drug money in July. Currently, there are more cameras than officers.