SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police now have another tool in protecting -- and being accountable -- to the public they serve as 17 officers are now wearing body cameras to record how they interact with the community.
As a pilot program, a small group of Spokane police officers are now equipped with body cameras to help the department figure out the best way to use them. Other law enforcements agencies in the area are already using them to great effect.
For example, Coeur d'Alene police have had the devices for two years now and they say they've been a great tool to have. In August 2013 a body camera captured the incident where a Coeur d'Alene police officer shot and killed a man who refused to put down a knife. That footage was reviewed by the Bonner County prosecutor who later determined the shooting was justified.
"It really allows the public and anyone else, prosecutors or whomever it may be, to examine the incident through the eyes of the officer," Coeur d'Alene Police Sergeant Christie Wood said.
"We tried them out for a while, we had some officers who were willing to try them and of course the results were fantastic. We love the body camera," Wood added/
Across the country they're being added to the arsenal of tools police officers use. Even officers in embattled Ferguson, MO. started wearing the cameras this week.
"It improves citizen engagement with officers and it helps take the element of he said she said out of the equation," Spokane Police spokesperson Monique Cotton said.
"Sometimes people question whether the officer saw things the way they saw them and the body cam once again gives everyone a fair view of how it occurred," Wood said.
The Spokane Police Department plans several town hall meetings over the next few months to get community feedback and let people see how the cameras work firsthand. They'll use that input and feedback from these 17 officers in deciding how to proceed with a full-department rollout early next year.