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Fort Worth Police Arming Officers With Security Cameras

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - The Fort Worth Police Department plans to put more cameras on the streets by putting them on officers.

After a year's trial with fifty so-called "body cameras," police will order 145 more.  The cameras are about the size of a tube of lipstick.

"These cameras are the future of policing," Corporal Tracey Knight told reporters.  She added, "It's the technology of tomorrow."

The cameras were demonstrated by Sgt. Scott Sikes.

fwpd police body camera
(credit: KRLD News/CHuck Schechner)

"This camera mounts to the officer's uniform in several different ways. You see here it's mounted to the collar; down here in front (pointing to glasses mounted on a table in front of him) we have it mounted to several pairs of sunglasses."

fort worth pd cams
Fort Worth Police have purchased 145 police officer body cameras after a year long trial period. (credit FWPD)

They're designed to be the eyes and ears when serving warrants, or during traffic stops when officers may be out of view of a squad car dash cam, like in a recent encounter in Cleburne.  Recorded incidents are downloaded and can be reviewed by officers, supervisors, or district attorneys....but can't be doctored, according to Sikes.

"From the time the recording is captured to the time it shows up in trial, we can say that recording has never been altered, it's never been edited."  Cpl. Knight agrees.  "These cameras allow us an accurate and irrefutable account of police encounters."

Fort Worth plans to order an additional 500 within a few years.

Richland Hills started experimenting with officer body cameras in April, and the city is so impressed with how they work, it now wants one for every patrol officer.

"The body-worn cameras have been a great success. The officers can use them when they're writing their reports," Administrative Sergeant Nathan Stringer tells CBS 11 News.  "It protects the officers, it protects the public. There's no losing side with the body-worn cameras."

But the cameras record only the officer's perspective. While the Fort Worth Police Association supports their voluntary use among officers, its President, Sgt. Steve Hall, says they are no replacement for a thorough investigation.

"Just like instant replay in the NFL, sometimes you may see something on camera but it still doesn't capture the full picture."

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