Columbia Police Officers Using New Body Cameras

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - You may see several Columbia Police Officers with body cameras on their chest.

The department is testing out the cameras and officials say it will help them be more transparent.

"The public gets to see what I see which is a benefit for everyone," said Lt. Joseph Rowson.

When an officer is involved in an incident and he or she is away from their dash camera, it can be hard to see what exactly happened.

Rowson says with their new body cameras will help make sure that the truest facts are given.

"When you get a video of it, a camera shot with video and audio of exactly what is going on, then it is less likely someone can dispute the facts."

The camera is smaller than most cell phones and can be placed on the officers chest to get a view of what they see.

The department just bought 12 cameras and is already being used in the field.

"So far we have deployed them for a weekend in Five Points and we have deployed some with our traffic unit, so that we can see on those two levels because they are two different sets of circumstances."

Rowson says the camera will also show the situation that the officer is placed in, like their surroundings or how the weather plays a factor in their perception.

He also says it shows that they have nothing to hide from the public.

"Those things you can't articulate in an after the fact matter, but with a body camera those things are picked up and that helps for that term transparency. We don't ever want the public to think that we are holding something away that's crucial to an issue of importance."

Some deputies on the Lexington County traffic unit use body cameras.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department explored the option of getting them but officials say their deputies aren't usually on foot patrol in high crime areas like five points... they are instead focusing on upgrading their dash camera systems.


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