Cheney Police consider using body cameras

By Alex Miller, Staff Writer

Police departments around the country have started implementing the use of body cameras for police officers to wear while they are on duty, but students and residents of Cheney alike will not see Cheney police officers wearing them – at least not yet.

Police Chief John D. Hensley of Cheney would like to see all of his officers wearing body cameras but funding is the biggest issue in making that happen.

“I think they should be mandated for every law enforcement agency in the country to purchase them, or quite frankly, the federal government provide grants so departments like Cheney, who can’t afford them right now, can get them,” according to Hensley.

Hensley said he talks to legislators about funding for the body cameras every time he meets with them, saying “Find a way to allow me to ask for a grant so that I can purchase this technology and get these cameras on my guys.”

“I think body cameras have evolved to the point now where they’re essential pieces of equipment, we just got to find a way to buy them.”

People in certain areas of the country are demanding their local officers begin wearing body cameras in wake of Michael Brown’s controversial death at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Michael Brown, 18, an African-American man who graduated from high school in June 2014 and was ready to attend college in the fall, was fatally shot during an encounter with a police officer. Protesters allege the police officer used excessive force against Brown because of his race according to an article in the Washington Times.

Not everyone shares enthusiasm for body cameras, though. EWU student Shaq Hill said, “I don’t think that’s necessary. They can do whatever they want with a body camera, like cut something out.”

According to Hensley, body cameras will not bring an abrupt end to law enforcement conflicts with the community, but they will reduce the number of problems, saying, “It will reduce them, and provide some clarity, but we’re always going to have issues between law enforcement and certain people that we contact.”

“We’re gonna still have people get through the cracks that shouldn’t be in this business, and so we’re still going to have issues, but that technology will help us get to the bottom of these encounters and provide another element that we don’t currently possess.”

There are students who feel that wearing body cameras is a great step forward in policing.

EWU student Saul Ruiz said, “I think they should [wear body cameras] because that way people can see they’re doing their job right, they’re not being unfair for certain reasons, and if anything would happen, police can’t really make up an excuse.”