Saratoga Springs police wearing cameras

Posted at: 02/03/2014 5:53 PM
Updated at: 02/03/2014 6:18 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

SARATOGA SPRINGS - We've all seen police pursuits and police reality shows that capture cops interacting with criminals.

But in some cities around the country, including Saratoga Springs, there's no need for a film crew.

The cops themselves are carrying the cameras, or more precisely, wearing them.

The small, lightweight cameras are attached to the officer's uniform or sunglasses.

When he comes upon a traffic stop or arrest, he can turn the camera on.

Here in Saratoga Springs, they've been using them for a couple months, though because of cost, they don't have enough to go around.

Chief Greg Veitch says the cameras improve officer safety because people tend to behave better when they're being videotaped.

"The public also is looking for us to be more accountable and they're also looking for this type of evidence. Most people nowadays understand that they're on security cameras almost constantly," said Veitch Monday afternoon.

The chief says that at the end of a shift, or after an incident, the video is uploaded to a secure off-site server.

And if need be, it will be used in court.  Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy welcomes it.

"We will see actually what happened and I think, as statistics show that police brutality complaints decrease by 85 or 90-percent. Police are professional and now we will have it on video showing that. I think it's a good change," said Murphy.

The manufacturer claims that video from the cameras reduces false claims of brutality and lawsuits.

Saratoga Springs doesn't have enough cameras for everyone. Officers weren't wearing them last summer when a man was critically injured during a foot pursuit. Police say the found the man on the ground, apparently fallen from a slippery scaffold.

The man's family has put the city on notice that they may file an excessive force suit, but they haven't offered proof of brutality.

Cop-mounted cameras might have settled it.

"When there's controversy, video evidence kind of speaks for itself," said Chief Veitch. "It helps us to be more accountable. But it also helps to protect us because for the vast majority of the times that we are doing things right, it's going to show us doing things right."

The D.A. says juries now expect to video evidence and prosecutors typically have to explain in those instances when none is available.