Jasper Police Department to purchase body cameras

As technology advances, the Jasper Police Department is determined to keep up. In just a few weeks the force will add several "body cameras" to their evolving arsenal of tools. They will record everything that happens in a stop.

Since May and before the Ferguson rioting, Jasper Police chief Robert Mac Donald has been looking into outfitting his officers with a tiny camera that would be worn on the officer during assignments. Now he can do it. Mac Donald believes the footage may help clear up disputes.

"Nobody enjoys getting a ticket. And that's probably the most frequent source of an allegation where an officer is accused of using foul language, or he stopped them in error or they used some kind of force in making an arrest," said Mac Donald.

Similar enthusiasm is coming in from the public.

Jasper resident Chad Tubbs, 21, believes the cameras can help the justice system evolve.

"I think it would change the way officers act. Some officers try to act like they're big and bad just 'cause they got a badge and a gun," Tubbs said.

The camera's point of view shows everything an officer experiences without speculation. For the past month mental health officer Cody Christopher has been getting used to his body cam.

"I think that it would definitely change assaults on officers." Officer Christopher went on to say, "it will also change the officers, I think. Especially knowing that everything [is being] recorded."

Jasper attorney Joe Kahla sees the footage being helpful to his profession as well.

"When officers first make contact with a citizen, a lot of times that's when they form their impressions... and I think by being able to show that footage to a judge or to a jury, will be very helpful," said Kahla.

JPD will spend up to $14,000 on 17 cameras and a video storage server. The cameras can hold about 18 hours of footage, are waterproof and shockproof.

But most importantly: proof.


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