Strasburg police start wearing cameras July 1

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

STRASBURG — The Strasburg Police Department will start outfitting its officers with body-worn cameras on July 1.

The department purchased seven cameras from Kustom Signals in Owensboro, Ky., for $15,000 in January. Funding came from a $4,000 grant from VML Insurance and $11,000 in asset forfeiture funds.

“It didn’t cost the taxpayers anything,” Chief Tim Sutherly said.

Body-worn cameras are usually clipped to an officer’s collar or shirt pocket and record interactions between officers and criminal suspects or civilians.

Sutherly said the department’s 20 full-time officers will share the cameras during their day-to-day duties, including traffic stops and domestic disturbances, to evaluate officers’ practices and what may need improving.

“It will help us review how officers are handling cases, and if necessary change the policy or the training,” he said. “It will also help officers self-reflect and see if they need to handle a case differently next time. More often than not, it will also protect officers from false allegations.”

Officers with the Woodstock Police Department and Shenandoah County sheriff’s deputies already use body-worn cameras. Sutherly said the devices are becoming a more common tool for law enforcement throughout the country.

“Most departments are heading that way if they’re not already there,” he said.

Body-worn cameras became a topic of national debate after police officers in Ferguson, Mo., shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown to death in August 2014. President Barack Obama requested $75 million in federal funds that year to purchase cameras for officers across the country.

Sutherly said his department wanted to buy the cameras sooner, but a lack of funding and an update in technology delayed the purchase.

“We’ve been trying to get them for a year,” he said, “but we only just got the money, and we wanted to get the new generation of cameras from Kustom Images. We didn’t want to get the old generation, which would be obsolete as soon as we got them.”

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