Police body cameras are coming to a community near you, and we believe they will provide an overall plus for the public and law enforcement agencies alike.
The Auburn Police Department and Cayuga County Sheriff's Office have secured federal grants to purchase equipment that can record interactions with the public, one result of a review of law enforcement policy and procedure ordered by the state in response to widely publicized incidents of police brutality in some cities in New York and across the country.
We are lucky to live in a community that has no urgent need to fix issues regarding police accountability. Auburn and Cayuga County do not have the problems some other places have, and local leadership in law enforcement has been successfully proactive in keeping it that way.
We can also appreciate that anyone might be hesitant to have their daily interactions recorded while they're on the job, but law enforcement officers, more than any other public employees, often engage with the public in circumstances that can result in life-changing ramifications. Situations that escalate into physical confrontations are what most people think of regarding body-camera footage, but even in cases involving relatively minor offenses, questions can arise about the conduct of everyone involved.
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While body-worn cameras aren't needed here to help solve an existing problem, they are nonetheless a good tool to have.
Auburn Deputy Police Chief Roger Anthony sees the cameras as a means of protecting both the public and the department.
"Every now and again, we get a complaint against an officer and you can't have better evidence to either refute or confirm whether something happened in the way it's being portrayed by somebody," he said.
There will be additional needs down the road for the city and county to pay for the storage and retrieval of recordings, but we're encouraged that the two agencies and the governments that oversee them appear to be in agreement to continue working on ways to get the funding to make it happen.
The Citizen Editorial board includes president and director of local sales and marketing Michelle Bowers, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.