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HPD gets body cameras on the streets, soon to be fully equipped

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- Huntsville Police are steadily dispatching Panasonic Arbitrator body cameras into the field with officers.

"At this point, we're about 50% as far as officers being issued body cams," said spokesman Lt. Stacy Bates. "We're looking to get them out to all our [officers] that have a uniform and drive in a marked patrol car."

He said every person qualified to have one should  be wearing it and be fully trained to use it by the end of May. What's taken the longest time hasn't just been getting them in, but providing for the storage of the video the cameras will be taking. They're training around 40 officers a week on the cameras right now. He said it's well worth it.

"It'll be good when we get to the end of this process because it is kind of catching us up with other departments around the country," he said. "It's getting us more technologically advanced."

Officers say it takes a little getting used to, but so far they have limited complaints about the technology.

"When I walk up to people, the first thing they do is look right [at the body cam,]" explained Officer Pat Trussell. "I haven't found a bad side yet, other than remembering to turn it off because if you don't, you have a dead battery."

He thinks these will solve a lot of problems, and do a lot of good by keeping both officers and the public they serve accountable in stressful situations.

"A lot of the accusations, as soon as they're made if they're true or untrue, are going to be confirmed real quick," said Trussell.

He said it also allows the police supervisors a peek inside a scene.

"A lot of people are going to get to see what actually happens, that weren't there."

Officers plan to store the video for a minimum of 30 months. If it's video of a specific incident that's disputed legally or involves injury, that video may be stored way longer.

Either way, it's an asset and  "it's a big step for us," said Lt. Bates.