Many people have seen dash cam videos from police cars that provide solid proof of a situation and occasionaly some entertainment. For police in Marquette, the capability to record interactions with the public has expanded beyond a patrol car.
A $40,000 Byrne Grant, a federal grant fund for law enforcement that is administered by the state, has given the Marquette City Police Department new cameras and microphones that are attached to their uniform. The grant allowed the Marquette City Police Department to purchase 35 cameras, one for every officer, at $800 each. The grant also paid for a large computer storage server to preserve the video files.
The light cameras include advanced features like night vision and are worn next to the badges of patrol officers like Mike Archocosky.
"It's just like bringing a video camera into the scene with us," said Archocosky. "The purpose of them is to possibly refute anybody's version of events that's not true and to justify our own versions of the events."
Officers can start recording before they are about to interact with someone. The video file can be stored and watched later, or officers can review it right at a scene. Marquette Police Chief Mike Angeli explained the many benefits of the new equipment.
"It could work in our favor if there's a complaint against the officer or some question as to how an officer handled a complaint," said Angeli.
The technology can also be used in a courtroom. Angeli said video evidence is something that juries are starting to expect.
"The credibility of testimony alone is no longer enough, even though by the law it is, by individual standards, by jurors sometimes, the video evidence is what put things over the top or confirms a decision they want to make," he said.
"Now that we have these, hopefully this will assist us in showing juries, showing defense attorneys and prosecuting attorneys, what exactly happened. Not based on my testimony alone, but based on this video evidence before them," he said.
Archocosky is leading all city officers in the training to use the equipment. Soon, they will all be up to speed on the cameras and the department's policy of when exactly to use them.