TEMPE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - They're becoming a staple piece of equipment for law enforcement agencies across the country. Body cameras are now a vital part of their everyday operations. The ASU Police Department is now getting on board by outfitting their officers with body cameras.
Body-worn cameras are exposing the violent confrontations officers have and in some cases are raising questions about use of force. ASU PD hopes their 80 new cameras bring more police transparency at the country's largest university.
In Mesa this week there was controversy surrounding a man who was stopped by officers, he claims police brutality, but authorities say he refused to comply with commands.
At ASU, the only vantage point has been dash cameras inside vehicles. A dash camera caught the confrontation between officers and an ASU professor who resisted arrest. The professor also claimed excessive force, and the officer later resigned during the investigation.
Now nearly all the university's patrol officers will be wearing body cameras.
"So far it's been positive, there are other departments that have cameras out there and they said it has been positive to reduce citizen complaint numbers by 10, 20, or 30%," said Assistant Chief Luigi Digirolamo.
The cameras manually turn on and off and are connected to smart phones. Officers can review the footage, and the raw footage is automatically saved and uploaded. So if there are any questions about the officers conduct, the cameras can show what happened from his/her perspective.
"Hopefully this will reduce citizen complaints. Once we have the cameras and the videos that we can show the citizens or the media that we did do the job right, or if there was an issue in which we can address the deficiency," said Digirolamo.
"Honestly I don't know if it's really changed my opinion into the approach of police work that I have, but I like to know that it's there as another tool that I can have utilized both as a resource to me, but also for the public. I think it's kind of a two-way tool to ensure trust on the publics' part in me, but I can utilize it as a tool in my investigations," said Officer David Johnson.
The ASU Police Department has 90 sworn officers, 80 officers have been trained on the cameras and students can expect to see officers on campus wearing the cameras.