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Moultrie police get new body cameras

Moultrie Police Department can now see and hear interactions better between officers and citizens thanks to new body cameras. / Tosin Fakile

Moultrie Police Department can now see and hear interactions better between officers and citizens thanks to new body cameras.

The department received 10 new body cameras after receiving a $6,000 safety grant from the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). The new body cameras are worn by uniform officers according to Moultrie Police Chief Frank Lang.

"There's always the question of transparency. The video recorders, they don't lie about what actually happens and it gives us the version of the officer and the version from the citizens. It works well for us," said Lang.

He added that the cameras have a 90 second delay on the recording and that the department had body cameras, but they weren't as efficient.

"We have been utilizing a very small camera that has not worked very well and to be able to get these cameras which are really nice, it gives us an opportunity to get a more accurate account of what took place," Lang said.

"They have a lot of different features from what we had previously. We have a night vision feature on these and these also have a pre-record setting to where, say we do get a hot call where we have to jump out of our units in a hurry. If it's already on pre-record it goes back and captures 20 minutes prior to me jumping out the car by me pushing one button," said Cpl. Shavarye Anderson with Moultrie Police Department.

The chief said he believes the officers are somewhat excited about the new body cams.

"I think that this is something new and anytime there's something new, there's some concerns but overall I think the officers are very excited about the opportunity to have the cameras and have their story told in video and audio," Lang said.

"This piece of equipment tells it all. You can see what I see, you can hear what I hear. Even in the dark now with this new feature with the night vision. It takes all of the questions, all of the mystery out of a lot of the calls, out of a lot of the questions a lot of people have," Anderson said.

And in comparison to their old camera, Anderson said its a huge benefit for night shift officers.

"You have a call at night time and only thing you could see in the video was nothing but darkness and you could hear the sound. With these you can see at night on them," Anderson said.

Chief Lang stressed the importance of more accountability, something these new cameras will give them.

"There's been a few occasions where we've had citizens complaints and the officers story was quite different from the citizens story and by having these cameras it gives the opportunity for not only the managers of the department but citizens themselves because it becomes public information and the citizens will get a chance to during the investigation of their complaints, they get to a chance to see what actually happened," Lang said. "Having the opportunity to hold the citizens accountable and holding officers accountable gives us as managers of this department an opportunity to see what actually happened what's actually going on," Lang added.

The video and audio from the cameras are downloaded by the supervisor into the server for them to review it at anytime.

Lang said sometimes there aren't enough servers to hold the videos and most agencies are going to the cloud and it's an expensive process.

"I'm hoping that there's more grant monies to come to help small departments like this," Lang said.

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