Suffolk police to arm officers with body cameras

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — More local police departments are looking into getting body cameras for officers, to increase transparency amid police operations.

10 On Your Side spoke with the Suffolk Police Department Thursday, which expects to arm officers with body cameras by next year. The cameras would act as another investigative tool for police, recording arrests and traffic stops, and offering an unbiased account.

“If we have cameras on our officers, it’s going to record what actually happened, and everybody’s going to know what happened. It’s not going to be a whole lot of questions,” said Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett.

Bennett believes putting body cameras on his officers is a win-win situation for police and the people they encounter on the street.

“125 cameras, that will be enough for all of our patrol officers and a few special units,” he said.

Photos: Suffolk police body cameras

The special units include vice, narcotics and the gang team. Bennett expects the new technology to cost about $200,000 during the first year.

“Roughly a $100,000 for the cameras, the equipment and the mounts. And close to another $100,000 for the software system where the download will occur, where we will store and categorize all the video for future uses,” he said.

But before that happens, Bennett is looking at best practices for use of body cameras across the nation, and he’s also setting up committees to look into policy, law, technology and purchasing.

“I would imagine we’ll start testing around the end of the year, and will last at least a month. Because I want to get it out to all three shifts, and I want to get it out in all weather conditions, daytime, nighttime, everything we encounter to see how it works,” he said.

Bennett now expects to have the cameras purchased by the spring. Body cameras are already in use by the Newport News and Chesapeake police departments.

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