Gov. Carney Signs bill requiring officers to wear body cameras

DELAWARE- Wednesday was a big day for Delaware, as Governor John Carney signed a bill requiring police officers, certain correction and service employees to wear body cameras.

“This piece of legislation which our law enforcement community really worked hand and hand with the Attorney General’s Office to ensure a level of fairness, a level of clarity, and a again a level transparency,” Senator Ernie Lopez said. 

The Dover and Seaford Police Department said this bill is a step forward.
Adding they already had cameras in their cars, but they have been looking at getting body cameras for years.

“Seaford Police Department has had in car cameras since 2000, with going with the body worn cameras which we’ve been working on for about 2 years now to obtain them and fund them,” Deputy Chief Michael Rapa, with the Seaford Police Department, said. 

“Funding had been a barrier up until the council made a priority last year and made sure there was funding for us to get things started,” Police Chief Thomas Johnson, with the Dover Police Department, said. 

The bill gives departments a year to implement this law.

Deputy Chief Rapa said they actually just got their new body cameras, and are excited to put them to use.

“It’s a full integrated system from brand new in car camera systems and body worn cameras along with side armed signals and taser signals,” Deputy Chief Rapa said. 

Chief Johnson said while they don’t have their cameras in hand yet, they have selected a product.

Both Departments told 47ABC they think having these cameras will be a good addition.  

“It supports testimonial evidence, it helps along the way to separate fact from fiction when the story of what may have occurred at any given situation is in dispute,” Chief Johnson said. 

“It helps us be able to be more transparent, capture the images that are told us, but yet we can see it and get the perspective of the officer from what they experience at that point in time,” Deputy Chief Rapa said. 

And they said while it will be beneficial just like anything this is new and there will be some learning involved.

“There’s always going to be especially with a new system, new policy that you deal with, there’s going to be tweaks that we are going to have to make, especially with certain laws, there’s already issues with privacy issues,” Deputy Chief Rapa said. 

The Seaford Police Department said they hope to have their body cameras in use by mid-August.

The Deputy Chief Rapa also told us to make their whole system integrated the cost was around $170,000. 

 We’re told these body cameras will also be used for training purposes and see what officers can improve on in certain situations.

Police Chief Johnson said that while body cameras are a valuable piece of evidence, context and other items of evidence still matter in cases.

Categories: Delaware, Local News