Body Cameras for Cops Well Worth the Expense


Posted without opinion, bias or edited.

billy bolin

By: Brad Linzy

As the recent George Madison incident, which generated national news [1], has indicated something is seriously amiss in the guidelines and procedures of the Evansville Police Department.

In a recently email obtained by the CCO, Chief Billy Bolin of the EPD acknowledged the existence of  body cameras purchased by the EPD, reportedly through the use of drug seizure money, currently gathering dust in their original boxes in storage.

“The problem is the cameras that were purchased,” Bolin said in the email, “were very cheap and do not work well.  They have scan disk cards that can be removed and edited by the officer, rather than an internal storage that can be downloaded.”

Obviously, any effective body camera procedure would need to include tamper-proof cameras. Through a FOIA request, the available body camera evidence of the Madison incident was released to the public, but only shows the latter portion of the incident after Madison was already handcuffed. The allegations of intimidation and threats with a Taser, which allegedly came earlier, were not shown.

Clearly this is a failure of what SHOULD be standard procedure, where all officers are required to wear and use body cameras for all interactions with the public. No such procedure currently exists, according to Bolin.

The technology is now advanced enough and cheap enough that there is little excuse in this day and age for not requiring body cameras as standard issue and procedure for police departments. This small change in policy could have hugely beneficial consequences for the EPD and the community.

The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Department has already announced it will be requiring Deputies to wear body cameras to avert incidents and provide unbiased evidence. [2]

A recent 12-month-long study by Police Foundation found that wearing cameras was associated with dramatic reductions in use-of-force and complaints against officers. The authors conclude: “The findings suggest more than a 50% reduction in the total number of incidents of use-of-force compared to control-conditions and nearly ten times more citizens’ complaints in the 12-months prior to the experiment.” [3]

These are truly staggering results – the kinds of results that are, dare I say it, revolutionary!

According to Evansville City Councilman John Friend, the newer, tamper-proof body cameras may cost the city in excess of $1000 each, but the cost could be partially offset if the old cameras still in boxes can be returned for credit. There are over 200 officers in the EPD, which would bring the total expense for the cameras to $200,000 plus disregarding any credit for the old cameras. The cost of one litigation against an errant officer could easily exceed that amount, making this one public expense well worth looking into.






  1. Why didn’t the Chief require all of the EPD officers to wear these cameras?

    Police officers having cheap cameras is better than nothing.

  2. If you think that body cameras are good for officers then you should think that drones flying over are filming us is okay/that when we walk into the civic center we should show our ID to the people working the door so they can scan the warrant sheets or the tax rolls to see if we are wanted or not paying taxes.

    • Anyone who has actually read the results of the referenced study and anyone who has been observing the increase in police brutality cases countrywide over the last several years should welcome body cams with open arms.

      Think of it THIS way… You know all those YouTube videos that have exposed police actions taken by citizens over the last few years, or how during the Robert Evidon controversy, cops were screaming out “where is the video evidence?” This would almost eliminate the need for citizens to pull out their cameras when stuff goes down. The actions of police and citizens with whom they interact will be recorded.

      I do not support the combing of the material in a warrantless way for evidence, nor do I support saving all recordings indefinitely unless they have captured a crime or accusation of a crime, but the evidence is clear, these cameras would revolutionize the way police personnel interact with citizens, and the way citizens interact with them.

  3. Wont the cameras be an infringement on the citizens that the officers come into contact with? A citizen tells an officer my next door neighbor is beating his wife or has a meth lab. The officer investigates that claim and discovers that it is true. The defense attorney will supeona the officer’s camera to see who made the complaint and expose the citizen to retaliation? A victim of rape or child molest would probably be very comfortable with a officer talking to them with a camera filming them. Will it be a “gotcha” camera if the police administration or a citizen wants to see the officer activity for a day just to see if officer uses a curse word or talks bad about the police administration. How about the police officers don’t they have a right to privacy?
    How about cameras on gay boy scout leaders? Oh yeah we trust them but not that much.

    • Did you just argue for an officer’s right to privacy? It’s a position of public service. Besides, people who work in Wal-Mart have no privacy either. Every square foot of the store is filmed.

      The film would only ever be referenced if something happened worth referencing – like an allegation of officer misconduct, a use of force, or if the camera was thought to have captured evidence for use in a prosecution. The benefits for both police and citizens are too great to ignore.

  4. The idea that body cameras are an invasion of privacy and the fact that police officers have had comments about how being filmed on the job is ridiculous is just plain ignorance. Anyone who works in retail, or at a bank, or many other workplaces knows that they’re probably being filmed. In situations of police brutality it’s often the victim’s word against the officer’s, no matter the evidence. Tamper-proof bodycams would solve many problems and be beneficial for all, no matter the cost. If a school district can pass multi-million dollar levies to pay for basketball equipment, I think that people can pay for something that will stop pricey litigations.

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