SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (WMC) - The Southaven Board of Alderman unanimously approved a contract to buy body cameras and video cameras for police patrol units.
The five-year contract is with Axon Enterprises and includes cloud storage for all digital evidence captured by the system.
In January, Southaven police tested body cameras in anticipation of getting them. The Board of Aldermen recently approved the purchase of 95 police body cameras and 25 for patrol cars at the cost of almost $1 million.
“I think it’s great,” said Rebecca Martinez. “They need to have body cameras because it cuts down on the confusion of what actually happened. You go back to the video and see who is doing what so it cuts down on everything.”
We spoke with several people in Southaven and not one though body cameras are a bad idea.
The ACLU of Mississippi said police body cameras increase police transparency.
High profile defense attorney Steve Farese told WMC by phone there are many reasons body cameras are useful.
“For the safety of the officials, also we’ve seen many instances where officers have been shot and the camera leads to an arrest of the assailant,” said Farese. “Also for hte safety of citizens because we’ve also seen instances where officers have misbehaved and usually if you don’t have a camera it’s the officer’s word against the citizen.”
Farese said he also believes the body cameras will reduce complaints against officers and reduce lawsuits because much of what happened is captured on camera.
One of those lawsuits a federal judge ruled would not be dismissed is one over the 2017 shooting death of Ismael Lopez when Southaven officers went to the wrong house.
Body cameras might have shown exactly what happened.
“They would be able to tell if he had a gun like they said,” said Martinez.
Southaven Police Chief Macon Moore said the body cameras should be rolled out and operational by the end of the year.