Thirteen cameras will be deployed on patrol officers and the school resources officer, Eckerdt said. The cameras have arrived, but will not be fully deployed until a policy governing their use is completed. One is being used for testing by Sgt. Chad Miner.
All patrol officers will begin wearing and using them in the next two weeks, Eckerdt said Friday.
One reason he changed his mind on the cameras is because people are increasingly recording their contacts with officers. It's relatively simple to obtain an application to a phone or tablet to do that, Eckerdt said.
"We need something on the other side to add context," he said. "That's one facet of this. There is so much digital media out there."
In addition, Eckerdt said, prosecutors and courts now want video evidence. Expectations have changed in that regard, he said.
The cameras are small, about 2 inches by 3 inches, and are worn on the chest. Eckerdt said he does not know how long they will last.
They were obtained through a Wyoming highway safety grant, along with a pair of in-car cameras and radar units. The city used $5,000 of the $15,000 grant to buy the body cameras.
Privacy concerns still are unsolved, Eckerdt said. If an officer talks with a parent who is concerned about his children, that would be recorded and would become public record, he told the Powell City Council during a Feb. 9 workshop.
"The policy is being drafted utilizing the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) recommended policy as a starting place," Eckerdt told the Tribune. "Command staff will draft the policy with input from officers, and then it will be reviewed by the city attorney before implementation.
"As I stated before, I do have concerns for the privacy of our citizens and want to make sure that we can effectively implement this tool and still respect that privacy," he said. "For example, an individual has a high expectation of privacy in their own home so if an officer responds to a call for service that is not enforcement-related and the caller is in their own home, we have to identify what is recorded and what is not. This will all be worked through as we review model policy and also the desired outcomes of this tool."
Cameras in squad cars are connected to the flashing lights and siren. When an officer switches them on, the recording starts.