South Charleston Police to begin wearing new body cameras

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SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Starting next week, the South Charleston Police Department will begin a soft roll-out of their new police body cameras.

It’s a big investment for the police department of 50, and each police officer and their 36 vehicles will get one.

South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens first proposed the idea of body cams for police officers in 2020.

A year later, they found the right model that works for them, and the city council just gave them the go-ahead Thursday to begin using them.

South Charleston Deputy Chief P.C. Rader says the main focus of a body camera or an in-car camera is to record evidence.

Rader says they wanted something rugged, wearable, and secure that had high-resolution and would grow with them.

They chose a model made by WatchGuard Motorola. The cameras are either triggered by the police vehicle lights or manually turned on. The recordings are stored in a cloud.

According to Rader, there’s been no pushback from his men and women about wearing a body camera.

When asked whether there’s any apprehension in the age of George Floyd where police excessive use of force has been caught on body cameras, Rader responds that South Charleston is not New York City or LA.

Instead, he says the cameras will just be one more tool in their toolbox in the city of 14,000 where he says their most common crime is shoplifting.

“I don’t want the public to think that Big Brother is out here watching a: them, or our officers, this is for the benefit of everybody,” he said.

Mayor Mullens says the cameras came at a cost of almost $500,000 for a five-year lease.

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