TPD may equip officers with cameras

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Police Department may equip hundreds of its officers with small cameras which can be worn the chest or behind the ear.

No final decision has been made but it appears to be on the table.

For several months a few officers wore the cameras during a test phase.

"During the pilot program what we discovered was the technology is very promising for the future," says Assistant Chief John Leavitt.

The cameras will give police an accurate picture of every event and every arrest. They will record conversations, witness statements and other things for the record.

Even some prominent defense attorney's see value.

"Definitely it will make people behave better," says Michael Picaretta. "Because there will be less on the scene bullying and less after the scene denials of what was said or forgetting or inaccuracies"

Tucson discovered during its testing phase that there were fewer complaints which gives generally means there is less finger pointing.

"I think having a camera memorialize the events really aids the truth seeking process< he says.," That way there can be little debate over what was said.'

That debate often begins with the police report, which in most cases, the cameras eliminate.

Having a video and audio recording of the events may be able to reduce the need for written reports.

It's potential in the future is to eliminate the vast majority of those reports, Leavitt says. "Reports that people never even ask for."

Leavitt says 85% of the reports are never used.

"They cost an inordinate time to produce," he says.

Tucson Police has asked the procurement department to solicit bids from the camera makers to see which is the best technology and the best price.

"It's hard to say how much it will cost," Leavitt says. "It could be thousands of dollars it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars."