PUEBLO, Colo. - Months after city council struck down a request for a citizen's review board of the police department, officers are experimenting with body-worn cameras.
"Some of the departments that have either engaged in a pilot project or adopted the cameras have reported a 90 percent reduction in complaints against police," said deputy chief Troy Davenport.
Davenport said the cameras are in the pilot phase. Three officers will be testing body cameras from several manufacturers throughout the year. Davenport expects the department will select a camera by early fall.
"I'm pleased with what I've seen," Davenport said. "The quality is quite good. The information that we get from the videos tells us a powerful story."
The cameras could eliminate the guesswork that arises during some of the more dangerous calls officers handle. "They could take these cameras, affix them to an object, extend them around the corner and then observe from an iPhone," Davenport said. "That's a pretty big advantage for a police officer not to have to stick their head around that corner."
Officer Jackie Herrera is one of the officers testing the cameras. She believes they're a win-win situation for police and the public. "In the long run, I think it'll let the public be less confrontational and officers as well to say we don't get angered by something that happened on the previous call and so that we don't get complaints from the public," she said.
KRDO-TV rode along as Herrera responded to a call from Edwin Gibson, who called to report property damage to his leased property. He said he had no problem being videotaped.
"This will take a lot of the guesswork out of who said, what said. Charges of harassment. I think this will put a stop to that," Gibson said.
Alex Lovato, of Pueblo, agreed. "I think it'd be a good idea as long as the feed or the video was edited right and it showed what it should be showing and not what they want them to be seeing."
Davenport said the most common complaint he hears from the public is officers being rude on a call. Soon, nearly every word they say could be caught on camera.
"This is a video world," Davenport said. "I always tell the officers if you're not operating on the assumption that you're on video 24/7 in our jobs, it's probably a mistake."
Davenport said budget constraints could get in the way of buying the cameras this year. He didn't say how much the department plans to spend on the cameras.