Officers and cell phones: New level of accountability
AMERICUS, GA (WALB) -
Deadly encounters with police around the country have shown the importance cameras to show what really happened. Many department have body cameras on their officers, but there's another camera watching officers, and it's becoming more prevalent.
Cell phone showing a police officer shooting a man in the back shows the impact technology now has on law enforcement.
"We do not discourage citizens from utilizing video. We encourage it," said Major Herman Lamar with the Americus Police Department.
Major Lamar says it's important for his officers to realize when they're out on the streets that at any moment someone can pull out there phone and all of the sudden, they're on video.
"Citizens have the right to photograph and video," said Major Lamar.
And in this case, that video brought justice to a grieving family, but most of the time, Major Lamar says the impact citizen video has is positive.
"If taken into the proper context and reviewed in its entirety, along with the other mitigating circumstances, it often can vindicate an officer," said Major Lamar.
Sometimes though, that video gets taken out of context and makes an officer look bad. To combat this, Americus police officers started wearing body cameras in 2012 as another way to get video.
Leesburg police chief Charles Moore made the same decision--buying 11 cameras earlier this week, but he encourages citizens to record and tells his officers to keep that in mind.
"Treat people like you want to be treated and if you're not doing anything wrong, then don't worry about being recorded," said Chief Moore.
Major Lamar and Chief Moore say there is a line where capturing video interferes with officers, and they remind you always to obey commands if you get close to a scene.