New Castle County Police try out body cameras [video]

 (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

A pilot program has equipped New Castle County Police Department with body cameras for at least ten officers right now.

The cameras were given to officers in various departments earlier this month, but as the program grows the goal is to provide all 385 police officers on the force with the devices that will record both video and audio. Officials say it’s important to note that body cameras will not always show every aspect of an event or everything that is being sensed or seen by the officer.

“This brings the public trust and that the officers are doing the right thing and when they are not, they are held accountable. That’s our commitment here. We’re not hiding from these cameras, we want theses cameras. And we think that if we lead the way and set a great example then you’ll see other agencies follow,” said NCCO Police Chief Col. Elmer Setting.

New Castle County is seeking federal and state funding despite challenges regarding body cameras. The cameras could cost as low as $400 each to purchase, but that’s not the real expense.

“The problem is if you’re going to put cameras on 385 officers and keep the storage for cameras and if you’re keeping that for ‘x’ amount of days- say 90 days- it’s [a] minimal [cost of] millions of dollars,” Setting said. There’s a group appointed to review such costs so when departments explore the use of body cameras, departments will make that information available to community members.

County Executive Tom Gordon and Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn showed their support during Thursday’s announcement at police headquarters on DuPont Highway. Denn expressed high hopes for body cameras at departments throughout the state.

“It’s our goal to have all police wear body cameras, and we think that it is possible and desirable for a couple reasons. One of which is you get better evidence of what is being displayed on the camera and also it affects everyone’s behavior in a good way,” Denn said.

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