Champaign police continue to roll out body cameras


Hannah Auten

Source: UIPD and University of South Florida

By Cori Lippert, Contributing writer

This past July, the Champaign Police Department joined the ever growing number of police stations that use body cameras in their day-to-day operations.  

If you are in a police uniform and you are talking to the public and you think there is some form of police investigation (you are required) to turn it on,” said Lt. Bruce Ramseyer of the Champaign Police Department.

A total of 125 cameras have been assigned to all uniformed officers. Ramseyer said they are still working out all the kinks, but said the cameras have been very useful for the police department.

Photo Courtesy of Lt. Bruce Ramseyer

“We have had to update our policies,” Ramseyer said. “We have had to train officers on how to (work the cameras) because it is something added to your uniform.”

According to the City of Champaign website, the body cameras are meant to “improve both officer and citizen behaviors, aid in faster resolution of citizen complaints, provide evidence for arrest and prosecution, and increase transparency.”

Ramseyer said the cameras will be a great asset with any liability issues.

“They are great for evidence, so if we see something out and about we can actually have it captured on video,” Ramseyer said. “Sometimes it’s easier for people to believe something captured on video than just telling them.”

According to a 2015 study done by the University of South Florida, body cameras have been proven to reduce the number of serious external complaints by 65.4 percent. The study also said the cameras were effective in reducing the amount of response-to-resistance incidents by 53.4 percent.

Adrianna Glisan, freshman in LAS, said she feels that if citizens know they are being filmed they will be more respectful when interacting with police officers.

“I think it would be a good idea because that makes it safer for them and the citizens they are protecting,” she said.

Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen said the police department presented the idea to the city council. The police department ran trials on the different cameras and figured out the software that would work best with the cameras.

Feinen said she thinks the cameras will help because they will provide information about officer’s interactions with the community, and also the community’s interactions with the officers.

“We continue to strive for increased police and community relationships,” she said. “And it seems like body cameras are a natural next step in that process.”

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