LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) – In a move to increase transparency, all Lexington police officers will now wear body cameras starting Thursday, July 1.
Members of the community pushed for the change in the wake of police-involved killings of Black people across the country. The city spent roughly $200,000 to get body cameras for about 160 officers who did not have them.
“We’ve had them since 2016, so the officers that didn’t have them had to go back and get training,” Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers said.
This includes police administrators and safety personnel.
“It protects both the people who live here and the officers because there’s no question about what happens,” Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said.
Officers in the field are assigned two body cameras. One sits in the dock and charges while the officer wears the other one.
“That camera has a battery life that’s pretty long,” Chief Weathers said.
Officers must activate their body cameras during incidents like traffic stops, accidents, and 911 calls.
Once an officer hits the record button, the camera catches everything 30 seconds prior. It keeps recording until it’s turned off.
At the end of their shift, officers are told to upload any video they may have to the computer.
“Most of them are associated with cases, so they’re kept until that case is adjudicated a certain amount of time after that,” Chief Weathers said.
With more body worn cameras on the streets, the chief hopes it’ll improve the relationship between police and the community.
“I think an opportunity for improvement with that policy is when we release video,” Councilmember James Brown said.
Brown and others are critical of how long it can take police to release video. Chief Weathers says Kentucky State Police and prosecutors often play a role in the decision.
“If they feel like there’s some kind of great concern, that it’s detrimental to community trust or public trust, we sit down and talk with those partners and come to some kind of agreement as to when it might be released or should be released,” Chief Weathers said.
The police department hopes to purchase tools that active body cameras when officers draw their firearms or tasers.
To obtain video, the public must file an open records request.