CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston Police Department is less than six months away from outfitting its officers with body cameras. Officials say they began exploring the variety of cameras in 2013.
The Taser Axon Body is one of the nine cameras the Charleston Police Department has researched and tested. According to Deputy Chief Tony Elder, a draft of the policy regarding wearable video recorders (WVR's) was submitted to the American Civil Liberties Union in July 2014.
"What we're trying to do is build community trust and to make sure that we continue to do that as we've been doing for many, many years."
Even before the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City, the Charleston Police Department has been working towards equipping their officers with cameras. Elder says they will allow for transparency and hold the officer and the civilian involved accountable.
He says the cameras have limitations like range of view, where the camera is worn on the officer and the stance he or she may be in during an encounter.
"The cameras don't always capture exactly what the officers see, and sometimes they'll capture less. Sometimes they'll capture more."
Elder says they are trouble shooting those issues to find the best option. The department will buy 120 cameras, which will be deployed by the end of June.
Recordings that are non-investigative, non-arrest and are not part of any internal investigation will be saved for two weeks. If a recording becomes part of a criminal investigation, it will be stored for ten to 15 years in accordance with state law.
Officials say officers will not have access to the videos, and it will not be possible to alter them.
"The benefits far outweigh the challenges that we'll face in deploying these because for the most part, I believe, that they're going to be a very positive impact on our relationships with the community and with our ability to represent what has happened."
The average cost of the cameras is between $800 and $1000. The cost for the 120 cameras is covered by the Charleston Police Fund. Officials say they will look to the federal and state governments for additional funds to save videos and maintain the cameras.