ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — While many police departments in the area use body cameras, others say they are not worth the cost.
Many people say having incidents recorded keeps officers in line, and builds trust within communities.
Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall has plenty of suggestions for improving policing in Virginia. However, body cameras are not at the top of his list.
“We don’t use body cameras in Roanoke County,” Hall said.
The primary reason: cost. One camera can cost more than $700 for many departments. That is a huge purchase that would stretch their funding.
“That’s not because body cameras are bad. They’re not,” said Hall. “They are, however, expensive. So, in any of the recommendations and suggestions, we have to prioritize.”
Hall adds that he has full trust in his officers.
“I’m going to suggest to you that’s because the vast majority of police officers’ behavior before the cameras was appropriate,” said Hall.
Other agencies that have been using body cameras for years describe their impact positively.
According to the Lynchburg Police Department, “These cameras are invaluable in protecting both our residents and the public because it provides additional accountability and transparency.”
“We were one of the first agencies in Virginia to start wearing body-worn cameras with department-wide deployment by 2014,” said the Danville Police Department.
Danville received their cameras through a grant. The total cost for those cameras was more than $100,000, but the department says they are worth it because “they’re a window into dynamic situations that police officers encounter on the street, and the cameras reinforce professionalism.”
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