DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dozens of Dallas police officers are now equipped with body cameras. And some citizens say the cameras will provide protection for both.
“Personally, I don’t have a problem with police,” says Zackerie Jones of Dallas, “police are here to uphold order, justice.” And yet, Jones admits that he’s grown concerned with the number of fatal police shootings. “The frequency of these are just outrageous… like every other week, every week now, something happens! This was covered up… if an officer was justified in doing what he did, he should have no problem wearing a body cam.”
The push for cameras locally has built since a controversial Dallas police shooting in 2013. An officer was fired and another charged after lying about why the officer shot a mentally ill man who was standing with his arms at his side. A neighbor’s surveillance camera captured the truth.
“I couldn’t believe it,” says Attorney George Milner, who represents the man and his family. “I couldn’t believe it until I saw the video. What he did was inexcusable.”
Local attorney George Milner has often worked to hold police accountable. But, he is also concerned that the cameras could bring what he calls ‘unintended consequences.’
“This is my fear: that a police officer is going to second guess himself in a life and a death emergency situation because he knows he’s got a camera on and it’s to be Monday morning quarterback for days,” says Milner. “You’ve got to make decisions in a split second… you’re either ahead of the danger or you’re dead.”
Some 200 Dallas officers were trained and will be the first to receive the cameras in what department officials are calling a gradual roll out of the program to make sure technology needed to store the video works as it should. Cameras were given to 66 officers today, including 8 who were the subject of multiple complaints. Department officials declined to provide more details about the nature of those complaints.
The cost of the 400 cameras purchased so far is roughly $3.7 million dollars. The goal is to purchase 1000 cameras in the next five years—but, officials admit: finding the funding for additional cameras has been a challenge. Meanwhile, the Dallas Police Association is calling for all officers to be equipped—and so are some citizens.
“That’s what the people want,” says Jones, “that’s what people have been asking for: just accountability.”
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