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January 30, 2015

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law enforcement:

Sheriff: Metro Police evaluating cameras to be worn by officers

When Southern Nevada’s largest police force finally takes video cameras into the field, Metro Police won’t be using the kind of squad-car cameras that recorded a Henderson officer repeatedly kicking a restrained motorist in the head. The department is instead evaluating miniature cameras that would be attached to officers’ uniforms, Sheriff Doug Gillespie told the Sun on Thursday.

The cameras could record all officer interactions with the public, he said, while dashboard cameras only record what happens in front of a police cruiser.

“A lot of what you do is not in front of the car,” Gillespie said, calling body cameras “the wave of the future.”

Gillespie said his department began looking at the attachable cameras about a year ago but found the technology wasn’t very good. Since then the technology has advanced and hundreds of departments have begun testing them.

The sheriff didn’t have an estimate on when Metro Police will begin using the cameras.

“We have to find the funding for it,” he said. “You need them for every person, but you could have a bank of them. It isn’t like everyone gets one to take home.”

Gillespie said the idea of cameras came up again in recent meetings with the ACLU of Nevada and the NAACP, both of which have asked for a Justice Department investigation of Metro’s relatively high number of officer-involved shootings. “I’ve made a commitment (to them) that we’re going to move forward on the camera project,” he said.

The Sun reported this week that the head of the police union said implementation of cameras would need to be negotiated in contract talks.

Gillespie had a different opinion. “I don’t see it as part of collective bargaining,” he said. “If that’s the case, then whether we put a shotgun in the car or lights (would also have to be negotiated).”

But Gillespie said he discussed the cameras with union representatives this week and the union will be a part of the process.

“I told them, ‘Listen, we’re going to move toward a camera system,” he said. “I really think it’s in the best interests of everyone that we do it and it’s the wave of the future. It’s going to happen so let’s just understand that for what it is and move forward.”

Dashboard cameras in Nevada Highway Patrol vehicles recorded the October 2010 incident in which a Henderson police officer kicked a restrained man in the head. That led to a settlement of about $250,000 for the man, Michael Greene, and his wife. The state settled with Greene for another $35,000.

Greene was captured on Highway Patrol cameras swerving for two or three minutes as he drove east on Lake Mead Parkway. When he was stopped and dragged out of his car by five officers, Henderson Sgt. Brett Seekatz walked up and kicked him in the head five times.

Seekatz was disciplined more than a year ago for the incident. City Council members, however, only learned of the incident after the Sun reported it last week.

Early Thursday, Henderson Police Chief Jutta Chambers announced she would retire. Behind the scenes, some say Chambers was a City Council scapegoat since Seekatz had already been disciplined and could not be punished twice for the incident.

The city charter forbids the City Council from making personnel decisions. That’s the job of City Manager Mark Calhoun, who sources say was pressured by the council to oust Chambers. Calhoun earlier this week also announced he would soon retire.

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  1. To my great surprise, Gillespie seems to have finally gotten it; at least he's talking like the Sheriff of the people (who pay him!), rather than the union appeaser he's been.

    Body-worn cameras are the ONLY SOLUTION to Clark County's police problem -- because they will QUICKLY get rid of the BAD COPS on LVMPD, either by changing their behavior or by getting them sued, fired, and/or jailed!

    Now, it's the job of the Citizens to keep the pressure on the Commissioners and LVMPD to deploy the body-cams ASAP!

  2. Amazing that law enforcement encourage the public to use video cameras - and they really appreciate when the public does use such a device - it makes their job easier.

    However, now that THEY are being asked to use the same devices they ask others to use - they have to "evaluate?"

    The only people that don't like video cameras are criminals.

  3. "The only people that don't like video cameras are criminals."

    Or people who value their privacy.

    "I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically." -- Henry David Thoreau 1849 "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience"

  4. This SOUNDS like a good idea, but I don't believe it reduces or eliminates the need for continuing use of Squad Car cameras.

    As noted in the article, the on-the-body camera would show (if un-obstructed) what the officer is doing. However, it could not "film" what would normally be shown - in a broader view - by a Squad Car camera.

    Further, the Squad Car camera operates, unattended, and would give /add a better perspective - a reference view-point - of the "crime scene" as it relates to where the police Squad Card is sitting. When view together, both types of camera operation would offer a better understanding of the circumstances displayed by the on-the-body camera.

  5. I agree with The-Socratic-Inkwell that cops wearing cameras should not eliminate use of Squad Cameras. Those body cameras can "accidentally" come off during a chase or altercation.

    I heartily DISAGREE with 'VegasCopCam' that the body cameras are the Only solution to Clark County's police problems. The ONLY solution to that problem isn't a Body Cam. The ONLY solution is to start firing cops for these murders, brutal beatings and other crimes that they commit and then arrest and charge them, like any other common criminal. Until then, Cameras ain't gonna do a d*mned thing. No Body Camera is going to stop these rogue cops from continuing to murder our citizens. We have Squad Car Cameras showing what these rogues do and so far, nothing has happened to them, has it?

  6. To my fellow bloggers;
    The camera idea is nothing new, but the advantages may not out way the disadvantages. Cost is a big issue and I am not talking about the equipment. I am talking about the (potential) litigation and (potential) settlement costs to the taxpayer when a slick lawyer convinces a jury of what he/she wants the jury to see in a video. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely for Law and Order, honesty and truth, but I absolutely hate it when a lawyer on either side of the table insists on telling me what I am suppose to be seeing on a video in their opinion. Video tape is mostly good only for teasing you and the majority of the time is useless for actual identification for court purposes. Video is most useful for entertainment purposes whereby the announcer and coordinator has a great deal of influence on the viewers perception of what is actually on the video. Let us also not forget the invention of photoshop and all the other computer programs that can (enhance) a video so that it can be clearly seen and manipulated. I am sure that the latest high tech mini-body cameras will be equipped with night video capabilities as sometimes the environment, in which officers find themselves enforcing the law, can at times be rather harsh and uninviting. I just wanted to point out some other considerations for those that really believe this is the ultimate answer to fix the moral decay that has infected my beloved police department. Just an old veteran cop reflecting,

    Gordon Martines

  7. Minicams on the persons (cops) AND 360 degree, automatic cams in the vehicles.