Body cams help catch criminals, protect honest people

News 12 at 11/ Tuesday, July 8, 2014

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's a movie in the making, but this time everything is real and you could be the main star.

Tuesday, Hephzibah Police Department got a truth serum of sorts. Now they have 8 brand new body cameras that follow and record an officer's every move and yours.

"It's recording everything the officer hears and sees and probably sees some things the officer doesn't," said Michael Cardenaz with the JD Memorial Foundation.

They're an upgrade from the standard in-car dash cams that stay in one place.

"These cameras can go in on a domestic dispute. It can go in on a bar fight. It can go in on a shooting, inside of a building," Cardenaz said.

The cameras record everything. It helps officers when they're battling complaints, but it also proves your side of the story, turning a he said-she said into undeniable proof.

It's a real life candid camera if one party tells a lie. And it serves as a constant reminder for everyone to be on their best behavior.

"Not only does it help us gather evidence and things of that nature, it also protects us from complaints, but it also lets the officer know there's something there recording him and helps remind them to be professional at all times," Hephzibah Police Chief Dwayne Flowers said.

Harlem PD has had them since November. Chief Gary Jones says it's already improving their conviction rates.

"They'll tell one story today, but when it comes to court they'll have another story. And certainly, we can present that as evidence," Harlem Chief Jones said.

While it can unravel a criminal's web of lies, it can also protect the honest people.

"Certainly if you have an officer that is being overbearing or may even be using excessive force," Harlem Chief Jones said.

It's a third eye that doesn't take sides but starts watching soon.

"They'll be on the street this weekend," Hepzhibah Chief Flowers said.

It's an addition that means even more because the department got them for free thanks to the J.D. Paugh Memorial Foundation. It's a charity that raises money to buy equipment departments need but don't have money in the budget to buy, and at nearly 300 dollars a pop for the cameras, it's something Hephzibah PD probably couldn't have gotten on their own.

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