West Valley City police to begin recording all interactions with citizens by March 2

Posted at 7:17 PM, Feb 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-25 21:17:34-05

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- The West Valley City Police Department is arming its officers with body cameras this week and training with the technology is underway. Police officials say that by March 2, 190 officers will be using the cameras in every interaction they have with the public.

"It's something to get used to, things change constantly and we'll change with it," Officer Matt Madsen said.

Department policy will require that all 190 officers have the camera recording in every citizen contact as of March 2.

"From changing a flat tire to looking for children to investigating domestic violence," Office Wade Wright explained.

About 30 officers received their cameras and training Wednesday. The cameras will be mounted by magnet to the side of eyeglasses or to a mount that wraps around the head. It means the footage will be exactly what the officer sees when dealing with the public.

"98 percent of the time those cameras are going to show, to demonstrate that the officer did the right thing for the right reasons," said Chief Lee Russo of the West Valley City Police Department.

Each camera kit cost approximately $800, with a total cost of $1.1 million--which covers the equipment as well as storage of the data for five years. Russo said it is money well spent.

"I made the decision that this is a top priority for the organization, so I reassigned some funds from elsewhere in the budget and quite frankly some of the things that were funded we might not get to this year,” Russo said.

Russo said the cameras are one more way to add transparency to the department.

"We're taking a position from an organization where we had a lot of challenges and controversy, now are actually being recognized as an organization that's taking leadership in law enforcement," Russo said.