SALT LAKE CITY -- The next time you are pulled over on the freeway, smile. You’ll probably be on camera.
The Utah Department of Public Safety plans to equip all sworn officers with body cameras by the beginning of 2015.
Officials said that will mean about 560 officers will be wearing them.
“I think the public has a higher expectation of us. They want to know what we’re doing, and I think that these cameras are going to help all of us, in that respect,” said Trooper Zack Hutto of Utah Highway Patrol.
This past year, Hutto and other troopers have been testing body cameras to determine which ones work best for the force.
The cost of allotting one camera per officer totals roughly $500,000 a year, a figure that could climb with higher-resolution cameras.
“Perception, between the public and police, that gets lost,” Hutto said. “And I think these cameras are going to help other people understand what it is, what we’re doing, and why we’re doing those things.”
Body camera footage has proven to be crucial in cases nationally and locally, including one in South Salt Lake that left one man dead and cleared the officer.
“This helps us to clearly show what the circumstances were at that moment in time when this incident occurred that is in question,” said Keith Squires, Commissioner of DPS.
Since 1999, the Utah Highway Patrol has used “Dash Cams” (dashboard cameras) and audio recording capabilities in all trooper vehicles in Utah.
According to Squires, body cameras are a logical next step.
“What we are seeing around the country, and the reaction and concern, obviously fits in where we were going,” Squires said.
DPS officials said they expect each camera to hold approximately 2.5 hours of footage. The larger expense of the project will come from storing the recorded video.
“I think it’ll just show our perspective on things,” Hutto said.