IOWA CITY, Iowa — Recent events in Ferguson, Mo. have sparked a national discussion on the value of having cameras mounted on officers during interactions with the public.
“It makes the police more accountable for their own actions and it’s recorded proof,” said Iowa City resident Latisha McDaniel.
During a rally against police abuse Thursday night, protesters called for more cameras.
That’s something Iowa City police are already in the process of doing.
“Our goal is by the end of the year all sworn officers will have one issued to them,” said Sgt. Scott Gaarde of the Iowa City Police Department.
Right now the department has about dozen cameras — they use primarily on foot patrol in the ped mall.
The cameras aren’t rolling all the time. Officers turn them on during interactions and turn them off afterward.
“This is a tool that I think will definitely be common for law enforcement in general, not just in Iowa City,” Gaarde said.
“From an administration point of view it assists us with any citizen complaints, or any internal complaints, so we can go back and review the video for any incident,” said Lucy Wiederholt, the associate director and chief of the University of Iowa police.
UI officers have been wearing body cameras for two years. They were the first in the county to make every officer wear a camera while on duty.
“When I review the videos I’m not seeing anything that looks like forced behavior, like they’re putting on a show, it really seems like they’re very relaxed and doing their job the way they normally would,” said Wiederholt.
UI police officials say they wouldn’t send an officer out on duty without a body camera. It’s a tool they say is a valuable investment for any community.
Cedar Rapids police said they are researching the cameras and may add them.
Dubuque police said they don’t have any cameras, but expect them to become standard equipment in the future.