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Detroit police commissioners raise concerns over lack of body cameras worn by officers

Detroit police officers accused of not wearing body cameras
Detroit police officers accused of not wearing body cameras 03:14

(CBS DETROIT) — The Detroit Board of Police Commissioner has some serious concerns. One commissioner said situations continue to arise involving officers not wearing their body cams or turning them off.  

"It needs to be an increase in supervisors' review as well as continuing audits of the body-worn cameras," Commissioner Willie Burton told CBS News Detroit.

Burton alleges that the board continues to see concerns about body cameras not being worn. He said the most recent instance happened at a recent pro-Palestinian protest after a lieutenant was heard telling a woman to go back to Mexico.

"But there have been other situations where there's a peaceful protest in the City of Detroit where officers weren't wearing body-worn cameras a few years back, so now it's becoming a growing issue," Burton said.

Detroit police first began wearing body cameras in 2016 as part of a pilot program. CBS News Detroit is told that having officer interactions visually on record can clear many misunderstandings. 

"It really puts us in a tough spot when it comes to lawsuits and things of that nature. All of this can be preventable if we just ensure that our supervisors are getting on the members," Burton said.

With over 2,000 officers, Burton alleges some officers have been repeat offenders by not wearing their cameras. He's unclear, though, on how often audits are conducted on body cameras.

"We do have good officers on this force. Some just don't want to adhere to the policy," he said.

Live: so we were hoping to interview someone from the department to clear things up.

CBS News Detroit asked the Detroit Police Department about the concerns from Burton. The department issued the following statement:

"The Department is aware of the concern raised by the Board of Police Commissioners regarding a failure on the part of some officers to activate their body cameras. While the Board has raised these concerns, the Department is not aware of any systemic issues related to non-use of body cameras amongst its personnel. Those who are found not using their body cameras are subject to corrective action. Moreover, as each officer on a car is mandated to wear a body-worn camera, in instances where one member fails to activate his or her camera, footage is captured by the other member's device.

"The Department has invested millions of dollars in body-worn camera technology. Every member is issued a camera, and the Department has instituted strong policy mandating their use. While prior audits and inspections have not revealed any form of widespread patterns of non-use, the Department will conduct an audit of BWC compliance in an effort to be responsive to the Board's concern on this issue."

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