Charleston police seeking public input on push for body-worn video cameras

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston police officers want to know what you think of police wearing small video cameras on their bodies when they arrest suspects.

Nearly two dozen officers could soon be wearing body cameras on downtown streets if the public and city council gives approval.

Officers in the town of Bonneau, in Berkeley County are already using the cameras.

"Wherever the officer looks, the camera looks," said Bonneau Police Chief Franco Fuda.

"The policy in Bonneau is if the camera's not rolling, we're not rolling," said Fuda.

The Charleston police department wants to get 21 body cameras. They applied for a grant worth nearly $30,000.

"It has a battery self contained pack and built in dvr into the camera itself. The preferred one that we like the most is the

," said Fuda.

The Taser company is known for making stun guns and now their body cameras are being used across the country from Arizona to Florida.

Fuda says their cameras are mostly used to enforce DUI's.

Fuda said, "The dash camera is trapped inside the vehicle, so this goes wherever the officer goes. If a suspect flees, runs into the woods then the officer has to chase him, he has video."

Charleston police want to use the cameras downtown first if they are awarded grant money.

Not everyone is as excited about the cameras as police officers.

Visitor Kenneth Reilly said, "I think as a police state where you have to have cameras everywhere, watching everything, surveilling citizens, I don't think that's good. I think that's unhealthy."

"Every second usage, I don't think is completely necessary. Maybe when they report to a call that they have could be helpful for those terms, especially for accountability of officers," said Clayton Reed.

The Charleston police department is still working out how the cameras would be used, but in meantime, Chief Fuda remains an outspoken fan of the new technology.

The public hearing to give your opinion on these body cameras will be during the Charleston city council meeting Tuesday July 15th at 5pm.

Grants aren't usually applied for until after a public hearing, but the police department had to submit their grant application to meet a deadline.

City council will have to give final approval on using the body cameras if the department is awarded the grant.

That money would come from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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