December 21, 2014

U-I police officers use lapel video cameras

University of Iowa police officers are using a new tool to help back up criminal accusations. All 43 officers with the U-I police force have been wearing small video cameras for eight months now. An additional 18 security personnel were just recently equipped with the cameras. Officer Alton Poole launched the initiative six years ago.

“The video gives an unbiased view from an officer’s perspective,” Poole said. The cameras, about the size of a pager, clip to a police officer’s uniform lapel. They cost nearly $900 each, but Poole believes they’ve been well worth the money spent in the form of courtroom evidence and clearing up officer targeted complaints.

“When a complaint comes in, we’ll let them know we’ll review the video. Sometimes, we don’t hear back from them,” Poole said. David Visin, associate director of the U-I Police Department, notes the cameras have been especially beneficial during football games, concerts and other special events where officers issue citations for open container or public intoxication.

Visin says the officers now have video evidence to refute false accusations. “When we replay the video, it clearly shows (the person) was intoxicated, the officer did the right thing and there was no instance that the officer was rude in any way,” Visin said. Many law enforcement agencies in Iowa have video equipment installed in their squad cars.

According to Visin, the need for body-worn video cameras by U-I police officers is greater than the typical agency because of the number of events they handle that require officers to patrol on foot rather than with a car.

By Vanessa Miller, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids