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Kalamazoo County Sheriff considers buying bodycams

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office may purchase a new tool to help with investigations. Sheriff Richard Fuller said they’re looking into buying 50 body cameras, or “bodycams," for law enforcement to wear when patrolling the streets.

“The goal of having body cameras is much like the goal of having MVRs, which are in the police cars today,” said Sheriff Fuller. “And that is an extra tool in the belt of crime fighting, helping law enforcement dissect a crime or a scene by having something to look at later on.”

Fuller said the cameras are small and can be clipped onto a deputy's chest, shoulders and hat. Since the cameras are not 3-D, the camera angle that people will see won’t be the same as  seen on TV. In fact, in some cases, they may see nothing at all.

“Some of the circumstances where they’re likely not as good is when the officers are actually involved in a hands-on situation meaning that they attempt to arrest somebody and the person resists,” said Fuller. “And the officers response to their resistance would not be on the film because you’re close together or the camera could gets knocked.”

One aspect that Fuller said the office is taking into consideration is costs. Last year, the White House said they wanted to spend $75 million to purchase 50,000 body cameras for officers across the country. The initiative was in response to the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown who was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. However, according to Fuller, that money would go to larger agencies. Smaller agencies like his are looking into using grants to pay for their bodycams.

“I want to caution everyone in understanding that with cameras, with the next technology, with the next camera, the next radio, you name it, all of these things have to be weighed against the actual cost,” said Fuller.

Fuller emphasizes though that the purchasing and implementation of these bodycams would be beneficial for both citizens and law enforcement.

“What you will see in many many of these instances, because this is the norm, is that law enforcement will be treating people with respect,” said Fuller. “Law enforcement will be doing the job that you expect them to be doing and that citizens are compliant to the level that you would expect, that your own family would respect law enforcement and cooperate.”

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