CSPD body cams hit streets in full force

Colorado Springs Independent: Most Colorado Springs Police Department officers who have frequent contact with the public now sport body-worn cameras. Those cameras document thousands of encounters that weren’t recorded previously.

Several dozen CSPD officers have worn cameras since last fall, but the full rollout involving 440 officers took place earlier this year. Only about 35 officers don’t have them yet, such as the Colorado Springs Airport unit, but they will soon.

On April 3, the CSPD staged a news conference to demonstrate the technology, noting that since Jan. 1, officers’ cameras have shot 23,500 videos. Some have already popped up as evidence in criminal trials, and Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May says their greater value might lie in achieving more resolutions before a trial, by showing defendants video proof of what happened during an arrest. “It has been crucial to plea bargaining,” May said.

Police Commander Pat Rigdon predicted the cameras’ presence will alter not only officers’ behavior in dialing back excessive use of force, but also suspects’ attacks on officers.

“Only time will tell,” Rigdon said, noting six months of use are needed to get a read on the true impact of cameras on suspect and officer behavior.

Rigdon said full rollout was delayed because the equipment requires a special uniform and added routers installed in cruisers. Training also was provided to the DA’s and public defenders’ offices.

Officers can activate cameras themselves, but Rigdon noted they start recording automatically in some cases, such as when a police car’s overhead lights are activated and the officer opens his or her door.

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