Part of the budget discussions for the Southaven Police Department has been the addition of body cameras for some of its officers.
It is very early in the process, but new Police Chief Macon Moore says it is something he supports and it is a move he wants his department to take.
“This was brought up in a budget meeting,” Moore said. “Only being here for about a month and being very busy since I’ve been here, we really haven’t had much time to talk about it. It’s not a matter of ‘if you’re going to get them, but when.’ I think eventually all law enforcement agencies are going to have them and I think they exonerate the officers way more than they find them at fault.”
A growing number of law enforcement agencies across the country either have the cameras that record actions of police officers on patrol and when incidents take place, or are moving in that direction.
Moore said Gulfport, Biloxi and Ridgeland departments in Mississippi have body cameras. Olive Branch has explored the possibility in the past. The police chief said his plan is to start small and with caution.
“Our budget starting off will be very small, simply because we are only going to do 5-6 people and we’ll do a test,” Moore said. “We may lease cameras to start with just through the testing process. There’s so many different options and I don’t want to get to it in a hurry. We’ll do it on a smaller scale and then expand it.”
Moore also cautioned that there is more to body cameras than just turning them on.
“There’s so much we’ve got to do,” Moore said. “When do you turn them on? Is it every time you get out of a car, every time you’re on a call? When you get out of your car and get gas, do you turn it on then? There’s so much policy stuff that we’ve got to cover. That’s something we have not started yet but we will, likely in October.”
He hopes to have some of the answers to those issues by the first of next year.
“I feel like in January we’ll have a good idea of which way we’re going with it as far as whether we’re buying or leasing them, storage and having a policy written,” said Moore. “We may have something ready to roll out by spring of next year on a small test scale.”
Body cameras are an expensive proposition and that is another reason why Moore wants to start small.
“The cost for the entire department to do car and body cameras, you could be looking at several hundred thousand dollars to get it started,” Moore explained. “The thing about it is you have fees for storage, whether you are going to buy servers to store stuff in-house or go with a company.”
There are also requirements for storage depending on the case matters and if it is stored in the Cloud or in-house, which may mean the hiring of an addition person to file and categorize the video. Those questions are another reason why Moore wants to be cautious moving forward.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.