The view from a police body cam and the story it tells

Published: Sep. 20, 2017 at 9:39 PM CDT
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The Bowling Green Police Department has been using body cameras for a year in November. Considered a 'fish eye's view,' the perspective from the camera displays an officer's daily routine along with critical evidence, information and an important reminder.

"The camera's gonna capture things that maybe the officer's perception didn't," says Kevin Wiles, Deputy Chief, Field Operations Bureau at BGPD.

Required to record during citizen interaction or on a call for service, now 95 patrol officers and first responders utilize these cameras daily in Bowling Green.

"It's sort of a window into police work that's really hard to accurately describe," says Wiles. "Some of their capabilities are beyond, ya know, like a human ear."

The new technology has benefited the officers in the field, and for other critical instances.

"Seeing video of an occurrence really adds a lot of insight from a supervisory standpoint, a training standpoint, and also when those cases do end up in court," says Wiles.

Even for recognizing good deeds. Wiles stumbles across footage of an officer changing someone's flat tire.

"If I'm looking through videos and I see that, I'm going to send an email and say, 'hey, officer 'fill in the blank' did a great job,' and I appreciate him doing that kind of stuff."

The body cams' perspective tells even more of a story though. As Wiles scrolls through countless raw footage of police officers responding to late night calls, these officers are walking into unknown situations alone. As an outsider, it's an eerie feeling.

"Cameras don't capture fear - you're just walking through, and you can be completely frightened, but the camera's just gonna show you walking through," explains Wiles.

But it's a part of the job, and also a reminder that these officers are constantly risking their lives.

"It's hard to really talk about what that's like, and then if you show a video, it's like 'Wow, that's really pretty profound,'" says Wiles.

The Bowling Green Police Department says the cameras are stationary on each officer's chest. Therefore, in order to capture a wider view, the officers must move their chests, not just his/her heads.

Overall, the use of body cameras have been effective, and the Bowling Green Police Department says they look forward to technological updates of the camera and software in the near future.