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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro police consider use of body cameras

The aldermen want to know if the devices will be allowed in schools.

“We started about 18 to 20 months ago doing tests and evaluations for different body camera systems. We are down to the last two test evaluation units,” said Officer David Deshaies, a spokesman for the Carrboro Police Department.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina teamed up with the Carrboro Police Department to present a draft proposing the details of the cameras at a Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting at the end of March.

As an officer, Deshaies said the camera system would require training adjustments.

“I have a terrible habit of talking to myself when I am driving, and it’s really funny to be sitting in court listening to myself, but it’s not always great when the judge gives you a funny look.”

Regardless of the new cameras, he said the nature of police officer interactions won’t be dramatically altered due to how prevalent smartphones are in today’s society.

Captain Chris Atack said body cameras for officers are not a recent development.

“Our original reasons for wanting them were to more effectively make determinations about citizen interactions,” he said. “We are coming upon a final product now.”

Atack said those opposed to the cameras on privacy grounds must adjust to a technological world.

“If you think about your daily life, there are countless locations where there are audio and video surveillance,” he said. “We tell our officers to always act like they are being recorded, and I think it is a reality that technology is widespread.”

But before body cameras become a part of the regular officer uniform, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen wants their concerns to be addressed.

“The main concern I have is the misuse of cameras for surveillance purposes and the decrease of people’s privacy,” Alderman Sammy Slade said.

“There have to be ways to clearly define for officers what the repercussions would be if significant videos were erased.”

Alderman Damon Seils said he believes the draft will be addressed again before the budget is made final for the next fiscal year in June.

“Two issues that I am interested in are whether residents will be informed when they are being video-recorded and whether or not we will have officers using cameras when they are at schools,” he said.

Despite developmental questions, officers like Deshaies understand that in order to effectively help the public, the public must have confidence in its law enforcement.

“I love my job,” he said. “If I can help people improve the public’s confidence level in law enforcement, then I’m all for it.”

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