Athens officers add cameras to their uniforms

by Holly Hollman
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cameraATHENS-In addition to strapping on a duty belt and putting on a badge, Athens Police Department Officers are donning cameras as part of their uniforms.

 

In September, the department received an $11,460 TVA-in-lieu-of-tax grant from Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, and Rep. Dan Williams, R-Athens, to purchase 34 body cameras. The department used an additional $2,944 from a 3M grant to buy 10 more cameras to outfit a total of 44 officers.

 

The department held a demonstration Thursday, Oct. 24, to show how the cameras work.

 

Chief Floyd Johnson said officers have been working with dash cameras on their patrol cars for nearly 20 years. However, those dash cameras are not designed to follow officers into homes, businesses, wooded areas or other places officers may have go. The officer chooses to turn on the camera as needed, such as witnessing a crime or encountering a suspect.

 

camera on uniform“Body cameras are able to document an entire incident until the suspect is placed in jail,” Johnson said. “The footage can be submitted as evidence in court for our cases. If an officer witnesses a crime, he or she can immediately begin recording. This can be valuable evidence for juries. The body cameras also provide a means to protect my officers from malicious or unfounded complaints as well as allegations of misconduct.”

 

The Athens Police Department bought 44 Taser Axon body cameras. Johnson said these cameras offer a wide-angle lens to capture the officer’s surroundings and give a better view of the scene. These cameras also have a rechargeable battery and record video in a secure manner to prevent accidental deletion.

 

demo camera“I am pleased that Sen. Holtzclaw and I were able to assist our Police Department in securing the equipment that is necessary for their work,” Williams said. “These cameras will be used in a positive way within our law enforcement. They will allow our officers to document events for investigative and court use. It will give the officers a way to protect themselves from false accusations. We are always happy to help support those who protect us.”

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