Will Ferguson make police body cams universal? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Will Ferguson make police body cams universal?

DCP's Sharif Fulcher DCP's Sharif Fulcher
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Law enforcers in Albany and Dougherty County have increased their use of recording devices, and most Albany and Dougherty County Police and Sheriff's Deputies have cameras on duty.

But state lawmakers may consider a bill that could make body cameras mandatory for officers to provide more transparency as well as evidence in controversial cases similar to the one in Ferguson, Missouri.

Officers said they welcome the cameras, and hope more of their interactions on the job.

Dougherty County Police Corporal Sharif Fulcher is wired several ways while on patrol.

"99% of the time when you are in contact with a police officer, you are probably going to be recorded in one way, shape or form. Video, audio, or combination of the both," he said.

His car has a built in automatic camera and audio recording system.

"As soon as we start our blue lights, the camera starts recording. Audio and video."

On his belt, there is a microphone to pick up his conversations, even away from the car. But like most Dougherty County Police officers, Fulcher also wears a body camera on his shirt, recording audio and video, and many officers even carry audio recorders on their belt as well. Even his taser has a built in camera that records when turned on.

Albany Police say the majority of their officers wear body cameras, as well as have patrol car video and audio systems.

Many of Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul's deputies have their own body cameras, while his office tries to find a system rugged and dependable enough to be worth the cost. He says by next year officer body cameras could be state law.

"They are looking at possibly passing some laws to force counties and cities and municipalities to go toward equipping their officers and deputies with body recording devices."

All the officers we talked with today said they welcome recordings of their work.

"As long as we're doing the right thing, the video doesn't matter," Fulcher said

And hopefully provide clear evidence, to prevent violent protests like that in Ferguson.

All the deputies and officers said those body cameras can be easily lost or busted during their day's work. Plus reliability and cost to equip hundreds of officers are issues. But they like that they protect the officer's integrity.

Copyright 2014 WALB. All rights reserved.

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