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Colonial Heights to equip entire police force with body cameras

September 24, 2014 | Virginia News

Before the end of the year, turning on a body camera should be as common as switching on a police radio for Colonial Heights’ finest.

The department has become the latest Richmond-area police agency to embrace the technology and will be among the first to equip all its officers with the devices, hopefully within 60 days, officials announced this week.

“Body cameras will be the norm in the future for all law enforcement agencies,” Colonial Heights Police Chief Jeffrey Faries predicted.

After a recently completed 90-day test run, the city is acquiring 42 of the cameras, each with small tactical computers, for about $70,000, which includes data storage and licensing. The program will also have a recurring annual cost of about $20,000.

City officials believe the cameras will be well worth the cost in terms of reducing citizen complaints, documenting crimes scenes and officers’ interaction with criminal suspects and motorists during traffic stops. It will change residents’ and officers’ behavior for the better, they say, and help the department identify and correct training deficiencies among the rank-and-file.

The city’s decision comes on the heels of a similar announcement less than two weeks ago by the Henrico County Division of Police, which plans to eventually equip each of its 400-plus officers with body cameras by Jan. 1, 2016. The department plans to have the first 36 cameras in hand by Oct. 1.

The Ashland Police Department recently equipped all of its patrol officers with body cameras, and Petersburg police bought 50 of the units in 2011. But Petersburg’s use of the devices has been spotty because of problems related to data storage, a police spokeswoman said.

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