Clanton police try body cameras

Published 7:58 pm Friday, January 13, 2012

This picture is taken from video captured from one of the cameras during a drug raid this past November.

If only through television shows like “World’s Wildest Police Videos” most people are now familiar with police car cameras and the important purpose they serve.

But car-mounted cameras are limited in what they can capture from dashboards — they don’t film what happens behind or on the side of cars and obviously don’t have any use once officers go into a building.

Clanton Police Officer Chris Whittle is shown with both the pocket and sunglass cameras that his department is now using.

The Clanton Police Department is looking to remedy that problem with body cameras, including one that clips onto shirts and another inside sunglasses.

The cameras, which also have microphones, are being bought through money seized from drug crimes. The sunglasses are made by i-KAM Xtreme and sell for about $130. The pocket cams are made by Scorpion and go for about $90.

The department has been trying out cameras for a few months. Police Chief Brian Stilwell said he hopes all officers will be able to wear them by this summer.

“They are definitely a good tool to have,” said Cpl. David Kline.

The cameras are able to record about 2 hours of video, and additional memory cards can double that time. They are powered by a battery officers can recharge in their cars.

The sunglasses have dark, clear and yellow lenses that can be changed out, meaning the glasses can still be worn at night or inside.

Footage from the cameras can be used as evidence in court and protects officers from false complaints. As technology becomes more prevalent in law enforcement, Stilwell said people are starting to expect that aha, CSI-like moment.

“Anytime we can show exactly how something happens is a good thing,” Stilwell said.