Mesa police hook officers up with cameras

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by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

azfamily.com

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 10:09 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 25 at 10:20 PM

MESA, Ariz. -- Police in Mesa will begin using more cameras mounted on officers' glasses, hats and collars to record interactions with the public.

After an 18-month trial period, 50 officers will get cameras over the next week.

The goal is to use video to quickly resolve complaints against officers and as evidence in court.

"What I want is to accurately document an incident," said Mesa police Chief Frank Milstead. "I want to show you the police version of instant replay."

Mesa police showed the video recorded when officers arrested a man suspected of carjacking the nanny of reality TV star Chris Powell.

"There's no better unbiased backup for officers," said Officer Steve York, who recorded the video in the Powell suspect arrest. "It tells the whole story, whether it's for or against the officer. It protects everyone."

Officers must click an "on" button to start recording and will be unable to edit or delete video.

"The key is it stops all the 'he said, she said' stuff and becomes an objective, neutral observer," said Steve Tuttle, a representative for TASER International, which developed the Axon Flex cameras.

Tuttle said Lake Havasu City is using the cameras and other Arizona cities are also interested.

They will cost Mesa about $64,000 for the year. City officials said they will use money seized from criminals to fund the program.

Mesa's Police Union approves of the cameras.

"We're already recorded all the time by cellphones as it is," said Mesa Police Union President Ryan Russell. "It's better if we have our own video which captures it all."

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