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Eureka Police Department considers body cameras for officers

In an attempt to address the distrust between police officers and community members following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, President Obama has proposed body cameras for police officers.

On Monday the White House pledged $263 million in federal funding to provide 50,000 body cameras to police officers. There are approximately 800,000 police officers in the nation, so it is unsure if that funding would ever get to Eureka. But before Obama even proposed body cameras, our police department was already considering them.

“If we're not doing things wrong, we shouldn't be afraid to be filmed,” Chief Andrew Mills said.

Chief Mills of the Eureka Police Department says he is in favor of adding body cameras saying they have the possibility of being a positive tool.

“We've already been looking at cameras as a potential method of increasing accountability. The question becomes the detail of how do you work that out,” Chief Mills said.

Details that would need to be considered before implementation. The cost of cameras is a small factor. Downloading and storage of data would be an even greater expense. And beyond monetary details, there are questions of operation and application.

“Is it all enforcement stops to make sure the police aren't racially profiling? Or is it all use of force? And when do you turn it on and when do you turn it off? What happens if you forget to turn it on? What about if you’re talking to a victim of a sex crime?” Chief Mills asked.

There are specifics to work out but in the wake of national issues such as Ferguson, it makes sense that this conversation is happening.

“The timing certainly seems to be right. It certainly would improve the interaction between police and community members,” Chief Mills said.

Chief Mills adds it shouldn’t be considered a 100% fix. Cameras could be a tool but they are not the only solution.  

“It's not going to fix all the problems. But it's a great step in the right direction,” Chief Mills said.