Tybee Island police testing out shirt cameras - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tybee Island police testing out shirt cameras

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) -

New high-tech tools are helping men and women who have tough jobs. Tybee Island police are testing shirt cameras, much like dash cameras in cars, but these are attached to the officers.

Tybee's Police Chief Bob Bryson said he's reviewed video already in 12 different complaints againts his officers using "questionable" behavior.

In the three weeks of testing the shirt cameras, he said it's already helped with he-said she-said police encounters.

"The video has already stopped the complaints that we've had immediately, when we've shared the video with the person making the complaint or even offering to see the video, people will stop the complaint from there," Bryson said. 

In fact, the chief wished he had the shirt cams when two of is officers were investigated by the GBI a couple of months ago for inappropriate conduct.

"Having these cameras on there, I truly believe would have squashed those complaints immediately before it went that far thus giving the GBI more time to work on cases that were legitimate criminal acts." Bryson explained.

Officer Marella Eaton said it's a learning tool and a benefit for the public as well.

"The (officers) that I've seen review themselves and how they would have done something different, or something that they forgot to ask, or a little better or thorough questioning," she said. 

As soon as an officer stops a car in a traffic offense, the officer is supposed to turn the camera on; this includes foot patrol stops.

Bryson said every civilian has the ability to take video with their cell phones and edit that video or not capture the entire event. Now his police officers can do just that, get the whole encounter on camera, as a back up.

"So far, they've been very good." Bryson said.

But he also admitted that video space is problem. His officers respond to over 10,000 calls a year, and every call can add up in video storage space.

In the end when all the kinks are worked out, he said these cameras, which would normally cost $900 each, are free and act as extra eyes and ears in an event.

The current company, Risk Jockey Management, is offereing their cameras for free, since they make their money through open records requests, which means, if you want a copy of the video that the officer's shirt cam takes, you pay for it.

Tybee is the second police department in our area to have shirt cameras; Pooler Police Department uses them as well.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved. 

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