HPD rolls out new body cameras

HPD rolls out new body cameras
Photo credit: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Members of the Hattiesburg Police Department have a new tool with them when they are protecting and serving the Hub City.

For roughly five years, the police department has been working to acquire body cameras for officers, and they rolled out their new devices in early December.

The department now has 79 Watch Guard body cameras, and 26 Watch Guard dash camera systems, that comes with a price $249,000 price tag.

"We've properly trained all of the officers on how to utilize the body cams as well as pushed them out to all of our patrol and traffic officers and those that will be needing them on a regular basis," Hattiesburg Police Lt. Jon Traxler said.

Traxler said all the personnel in the department, like administration does not have the body cameras, and that not all 79 are in use currently.

"We do have a few that are backups, so that in the event something happens to one of them, it's an electronic, if something happens to it we have something as a backup so that an officer has one," Traxler said.

Department officials want the public to be aware that the officers will be outfitted with the cameras at all times on duty.

"They will be utilizing them when they are out there, so if you see an officer, be prepared because you may be talking into a camera, even though they aren't around their car," Traxler said.

Some of the departments vehicles now have more than one camera, some are outfitted with the new Watch Guard dash camera system, and that ultimately gives some cars three cameras.

Traxler said it is an extremely helpful tool for officers to have.

"This tool will actually serve as a way of somebody being there with the officer, to be able to one, collect the evidence for court, so that if there is a situation where something has to be going before a judge, then it's got all the evidence needed," Traxler said. "But at the same time to ensure that the officers are doing their job to the best of their abilities and not infringing on any kind of rights or anything like that."

So far, Traxler said he has heard nothing but positive feedback from the officers.

"The officers that have already got these and have been using them really really enjoy them they are glad they finally got them, because of the fact at the end of an incident they are able to go back and see exactly what happened, and makes their reports more detailed," Traxler said.

Traxler said the body cameras have already proved helpful in multiple cases handled by the department just in the short time they have been on the streets.