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Police Chief David Brown To Spend $1M+ On Body Cams

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Police Chief David Brown will spend more than $1 million on body cameras for 10-15 percent of 2500 officers on the streets of Dallas next year.

"When they get into critical incidents that become controversial, the best witness they have is what's caught on tape," said Brown.

He said rookies fresh out of the academy will receive the first cameras. Officers with a history of complaints for excessive force or verbal abuse are next in line.

"We want to set aside some of those officers who are flagged because of their behavior. And so we mandate that they wear some of the initial 200 cameras," said Brown.

The police chief said he hopes cameras don't just capture police interactions, but improve them.

"Everybody's behavior on camera is better. The most belligerent drunk acts professional on camera. Your 'problem cops' have attitude adjustments," said Brown.

He also wants to give officers more options for the times they use force. Thus, the department is purchasing 2,000 tasers -- tripling the amount it has now. The department initially hesitated to invest in the technology after several deaths, including that of a robbery suspect in Dallas.

But Brown said the newer models are safer and smarter.

"The smart taser reduces the charge when someone stops resisting. So it automatically reads the person's level of resistance," said Brown, who believes using tasers could save lives.

Taser use allows officers to subdue suspects without firing shots. Brown said he ultimately hopes using body cameras will increase public confidence in police. But when officers are caught misbehaving on-camera, Brown said the footage will make it easier to discipline or even fire them.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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