Attorney calls out Valley police agencies for not using dash-cams

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A local DUI Attorney called out Valley Police Departments Tuesday for not using dash-cameras to record interactions between officers and the public.

"The reality is that the implementation of some of the pilot programs, I think, would be incredibly effective. The problem that we've seen is that the pilot programs haven't gone anywhere," attorney Craig Rosenstein said.

Rosenstein is the founder of Rosenstein Law Firm in Scottsdale.

The DUI Attorney held a news conference raising the issue, and questioning why Valley agencies like the Phoenix and Scottsdale Police Departments are not using the technology.

"People oftentimes will see things through different prisms and different lenses based on their experience and training. If we had independent corroboration then the whole world would be completely aware of what's going on," he said.

Rosenstein said recent national events have put the issue in focus. He pointed to the controversial shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

He said video evidence could have made a big difference in either proving or disproving the officer's version of events.

"Recently we've seen a rash of incidents where having video evidence or having a dash-cam would be incredibly helpful," he says.

Locally, there are some agencies using dash-cameras, such as ASU Police.

The arrest by one of their officers of Professor Ersula Ore made national news and raised all sorts of questions.

Rosenstein believes those instances are the exception, not the rule, adding that most of the time video evidence benefits the officer.

It's a belief Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery agrees with.

"As a prosecutor, I like the idea, in general, of videotaping those interactions because it eliminates any question about an officer's behavior or decisions they make. And it makes it very evident for a jury to consider what a defendant said or did," Montgomery said.

However, he cautions that it is not the end-all solution because technology can sometimes fail, and it's a huge financial investment.

The equipment cost, storage,and training all adds up.

"We've got some agencies in the Valley not of great means, may not be able to afford total operations costs to implement something like that," said Montgomery.

Rosenstein believes in the long run these programs would actually end up saving taxpayers money because a lot of cases could either be pleaded out or wrapped up quickly based on the video evidence.

He also says it helps keep everyone honest.

"When there are events where the officers might be compelled to not tell the truth, those events might be put at bay if we have video testimony and the officers know we have video testimony, so it's really one of those trust but verify scenarios," Rosenstein said.

Neither Scottsdale nor Phoenix Police would address the topic on-camera.

However, both agencies told 3TV they are in the process of testing body-cameras out on their officers.