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Police should wear body cameras in all encounters near CSU campus

Fort Collins Police Services plan to phase in 60 cameras for some of their 197 officers to wear while on patrol. The cameras are aimed to add further clarity to interactions that occur between officers and the public.
Fort Collins Police Services plan to phase in 60 cameras for some of their officers to wear while on patrol. The cameras are aimed to add further clarity to interactions that occur between officers and the public.

There are currently 60 body-worn cameras being used by the Fort Collins Police. As the only agency in Larimer County using the technology, the line between protecting individual privacy while maintaining public transparency may become blurred. With over 150,000 residents in the City of Fort Collins, the area is expanding at a steady rate.

Police should use body-worn cameras to document all encounters near the Colorado State University campus to ensure that incidents are resolved fairly and efficiently. Body-worn cameras improve the behavior of all parties during an encounter while holding both sides accountable. Traffic stops, disturbances, arrests and more can be documented as evidence using this technology.

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Currently, of the 205 sworn officers, pen-sized body-worn cameras are used by the District One unit working the downtown area, according to Sergeant Dean Cunningham in the Financial Crimes Unit. The officers who are currently using the cameras were volunteers when they were first implemented. The recent addition of 40 cameras to the police force was absorbed at a cost of about $181,000, according to the City of Fort Collins website.

Factors such as security and reliability of information are elements that body-worn cameras incorporate when incidents between students and police occur. Although the video data needs to be sorted and labeled, public trust can be maintained through body-worn camera services. In the past 30 days, FCPS added 149.42 gigabytes of data to their storage, according to Cunningham. FCPS has been using dash-mounted cameras since the 1990s, according to a fact sheet. This data is stored in the cloud, so it does not present a problem as long as FCPS is willing to pay for it.

According to a recent article from the Coloradoan, there are technicians in the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office who specialize in digital media organization. An additional technician was recently hired at a cost of almost $54,000, as FCPS is expected to increase the amount of body-worn cameras in the future. Although maintaining video storage may cost thousands of dollars, body cameras will help police document their interactions with guests and residents near CSU accurately.

As the technological era of the millennial generation progresses, body-worn cameras are becoming a necessary element of police interaction. An incident occurring early Saturday morning involving police was not recorded on video, even though it resulted in the killing of a 22-year-old man just south of the CSU campus. Neither of the two officers were wearing body-worn cameras. The answer is unclear if this confrontation would have resulted differently had body-worn cameras been utilized. However, residents and visitors near the CSU campus deserve the additional evidence that comes from this technology. While the City of Fort Collins continues to grow, so should the technology used to accompany police in the area. After all, too much evidence is never a bad thing.

Collegian Reporter Christina Vessa can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter at @ChrissyVessa.

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