GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – Gallatin police officers now have an additional piece of equipment to clip on before leaving for patrol — body cameras.
The cameras record from the officer’s point of view and provide a record of interactions with the public.
“We have always felt like we try to be transparent in our policing efforts,” Gallatin Police Spokesman Officer Bill Storment said. “There’s an advantage for our officers too because as the community becomes aware our officers have these cameras on they may be less as likely to behave as badly.”
Gallatin police used departmental money to purchase 60 cameras at a cost of around $30,000.
The cameras clip onto the officer’s uniform dress shirt and are activated when the officer’s blue lights are turned on or the officer manually turns the camera on when interacting with the public.
At the end of the officer’s shift, a docking station in the patrol squad room will download video from the camera and also charge the body camera.
“We already have in-car cameras and the supervisors review these videos randomly,” Storment said. “If there are things that become apparent that are training issues we can address that in roll call.”
The department told News 2 the decision came in part because of recent incidents of police-involved arrests and shootings in other states.
The same company who equipped the GPD with its in-car camera system is also contracted for the body camera equipment.
“This will help us when we get complaints so we can resolve those issues quickly and fairly for the public and the officers,” Storment said. “We want to make sure our officers aren’t falsely accused of things as well.”
All patrol officers are equipped with the cameras and the investigative division is being now receiving them as well.
Gallatin residents News 2 spoke to during the lunch hour at Mama’s Kitchen in Gallatin were largely supportive of the department’s decision.
“Its money well spent, although we haven’t had the problems here that other places have had,” Gallatin resident Nathan Harsh said. “It would certainly keep us from having them in the future.”
Harsh has lived in Gallatin for 77 years and spent much of that time as an attorney. He told News 2 a lot has changed when it comes to policing the community.
“Back when I was a child we had one police man here in Gallatin named Burt Wallace and he didn’t carry a gun he carried a “Billy Stick,” he said.
Johnny Wright lives in Hendersonville but was in Gallatin for lunch Thursday.
“I think it is a good idea, I really do,” he said. “It protects the officers and the people they are going after to see exactly what is happening during the incident.”
Wright continued, “I think it protects both of them.”
Gallatin is not the only police department rolling out body cameras for officers.
Franklin’s Police chief included purchasing more than 100 body cameras for officers in Franklin in her budget request for Fiscal Year 2015-2016.
The federal government has also called on police agencies to add body cameras.
The Justice Department is planning to award 50 grants to law enforcement agencies to fund the purchase of body cameras.