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Indiana's two largest police departments still don't have body cameras

Posted at 6:26 AM, Oct 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-30 06:27:18-04

INDIANAPOLIS – The police body camera debate has been going on for years, but two of Indiana's largest police departments still don't have them. 

Police body cameras often act as the unbiased witness to incidents. The video and audio captured can provide clues and evidence to what is happening during an important moment.

“Number one -- we want them,” IMPD Chief Bryan Roach told Call 6 Investigates in September. “That's a goal of mine."

MORE | IMPD Chief: 'Body cameras are a goal of mine'

The cameras have been rolled out at departments big and small across the country and have proven to increase transparency and public trust with the police department, but IMPD and Indiana State Police still haven't jumped on board.

IMPD says some of their delays have been because the department’s technology was behind the times. Roach says the department needed to upgrade the backbones of their system before they could handle body cameras. Those updates are expected to be completed this year. The most recent upgrade of the computer-aided dispatch system went online last week.

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Indiana State Police, on the other hand, tell RTV6 they've had discussions about cameras and believe they are important, but right now there are no immediate plans to add them to the agency.

The agency says the cost of storing all the video and the fast-changing technology of body cameras currently outweighs the benefit of having them.

While IMPD and ISP are holding off for now, many central Indiana police agencies have already purchased body cameras. Muncie, Boone County, Lafayette, West Lafayette and the City of Lawrence are just a few of the departments to get them in recent years. 

Lawrence Police Deputy Chief Gary Woodruff says body cameras often show the police acted in good faith and largely can be to the police department's benefit. However, many people don't realize that the body cameras are just one perspective of what happened.

"I think the viewing public needs to know there are limitations of every system,” Woodruff said. “This is not a sporting event with 8 to 12 cameras capturing the action. Sometimes physical confrontation doesn't look good. It's gritty."

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