Greenwood police officers outfitted with body cameras
Greenwood Police are trying a new technology to capture crime in action. Several of their officers are now wearing cameras on patrol.
For officer Scott Cottongim, it's a new way to fight crime. He has a second set of eyes, watching and recording everything he sees.
The body camera, worn with a band that wraps near his ear, captures the officer's point of view.
"It was strange getting used to at first. Now it's just become another piece of the uniform," Cottongim said.
The body camera captures audio and video of crime scenes and traffic stops. It's digital and records on a loop, so it saves data from 30 seconds prior to turning it on, with the press of a button on the officer's uniform.
"It follows me wherever I go - into the house, into the apartment and wherever I go, it's taking video. Where before, if they weren't in front of my car, you didn't get the video," Cottongim explained.
Body cameras are being used by four Greenwood police officers right now. The goal is to outfit the entire department by next year, with 40 of them.
Police say they're better than in-car cameras and cheaper, too. Instead of $3,500 per squad car for in-car cameras, body worn cameras cost about $1,000 per officer, plus $120 for online storage, which is handled by the company that makes the cameras.
"We think this video will not only save us money in the long run, but will show everybody what a fantastic job these officers do on a day-to-day basis," said Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Matthew Fillenwarth.
Besides capturing what happens at crime scenes and traffic stops, Greenwood Police say body cameras have another benefit - recorded proof if an officer is accused of misconduct.
Police believe the video footage will quickly clear up complaints.
"This is what I did, compared to if somebody wants to say something different, I can show them it wasn't that with this video," Cottongim said.
The video is uploaded by the officers daily, but they cannot delete the data. Officer Cottongim calls it a win-win.
"I don't see any downside to this. If anything, as long as everyone's doing what they're supposed to be doing, it's gonna do nothing but help you," he said.
Greenwood Police plan to bring up the request for body cameras and the $40,000 price tag to the city council in June.
The Evansville Police Department recently purchased body cameras for its officers. Indianapolis Metro Police also tested them on a few officers last year.