University police officers will soon be wearing miniature portable video cameras on their uniforms while they’re on campus.
According to Sgt. John Laws of the University Police Department, “the police patrol officers and library security officers” are going to be the ones wearing these video cameras to help gather evidence.
Laws said the department will be using Vievu video cameras, which are small devices that are clipped onto the front of an officer’s uniform.
According to Laws, these cameras are to be worn throughout an officer’s shift, but won't always be turned on and recording footage.
“The department is recommending that the officers have it on any time they are actively contacting someone in a professional capacity,”
Laws also said that it was up to the individual officer to decide when they will turn on or off their video camera.
“The video camera is fairly wide-angled, but it is not going to capture everything,”
Brenda Murakami, junior accounting major, thinks video cameras are a good idea and said, “there are already cameras in police cars so if the policemen have cameras on them, then they’ll be able to watch the footage if they need to.”
According to Laws, if an officer catches "someone in the act of doing something," they'll have it on video.
He said the video cameras aren’t just for reviewing footage, but also to record audio so officers can go back and listen to what someone is saying to them during an investigation.
"I don't really see why they need the video cameras unless it's for training new officers,” said Kelly Ross, junior electrical engineering major.
Ross said that having the police officers on campus wearing video cameras “doesn’t exactly make me feel safe.”
Laws said that video cameras help record the police officers’ actions so they can "articulate we have done what we were supposed to be doing."
According to Laws, the patrol officers on campus have been testing out many different types of portable video cameras for over a year now to see what works best.
Although there are some agencies that have been using portable video cameras for a while now, Laws said, “this is a fairly new system to us.”
The patrol officers will start using the cameras as they are assigned out, he said, which will happen very soon.
According to Laws, the department has purchased 23 cameras, costing $900 each.
“The university feels this is an appropriate expense for us to use,”
Laws said that he thinks the use of video cameras is a good idea, “I think it will certainly help us. I had a claim filed against me a while ago and a video camera that happened to be nearby had footage showing that I didn't do any of the things the person had said I did.”
He also said the purpose of these video cameras is to help everyone.
“I think using the video cameras is going to provide a better environment for everybody. A lot of people are afraid when they get contacted by the police, but we’re professional law enforcement … we’re going to do the right thing,” he said.
Cynthia Tang, a sophomore environmental studies major, also agreed and said she thought video cameras would be good to have.
"If someone was to attack me and the police happened to be passing by, they would have it all on tape as evidence," Tang said.