Body Cameras

Many south-central Idaho law enforcement agencies equip their officers with body cameras. Here, Filer Police Chief Tim Reeves wears a body camera while driving in 2015.

DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS FILE PHOTO

JEROME — Patrol officers in Jerome will now be equipped with body-worn cameras.

Jerome police decided to start using cameras a couple of years ago, before they became a major issue of national debate, Police Chief Dan Hall said in a statement. The City Council authorized funding to start the process in the 2014-2015 budget, and in 2015 officers tested and evaluated six or seven models, Hall said, looking at factors like sound and video quality, ease of use and camera angle. They ended up choosing the VIEVU LE-3 model camera and buying 12 cameras that year for later use, Hall said.

Now, Hall said, all patrol officers will be wearing cameras and will be required to activate them during most interactions with the public. Many officers are wearing cameras already, Hall said, and training and issuance of the cameras for all patrol officers should be done by Aug. 12. Detectives and school resource officers will not be required to wear them.

“Generally speaking, the officers are supposed to activate them during any type of field contact,” Hall said.

There will be some limited exceptions where police don’t have to have cameras on, Hall said, such as when an officer is directing traffic for an extended period and there would be no evidentiary value, when talking to a confidential informant, or at times in a private residence when a person would have an expectation of privacy. Other than that, Hall said, all contact with the public will be recorded.

Early on while the cameras were being tested, Hall said, it became apparent that large amount of digital storage space would be needed for the video being recorded. Money was put in this year’s budget to buy a new computer server for storage and money for more cameras, and the server became operational in July.

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Hall said the cameras themselves cost about $12,000 and the server cost about $8,000. He said he doesn’t expect any serious ongoing costs, other than maintaining the equipment and replacing it as needed.

“We anticipate that this server will last us many years into the future, provided we don’t grow at some rapid, unforeseen rate,” Hall said.

Hall said in a statement that, while he expects using body cameras will have mostly positive effects, “it is not the grand solution that will answer all the concerns over police conduct” and warned people against “inflated expectations.” Hall said the cameras are only one tool in understanding how police actions evolve in the field and that, while video of an incident may be valuable, it only captures one point of view and may not capture other important details of an incident.

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