Registered Agency Profile: Wellton Police Department

s-l225Registered Agency Profile: Wellton Police Department 

Agency Donation Effort Contact: Sgt. David Rodriguez

Link: Department Website

Number of officers: 6

Body Camera Goal:  6

The Department has received three cameras! 

DONATIONS

Name State Amount
Murl P. Woodland, CA $250.00
Tristan W. Wellton, AZ $200.00
BlindSmart Yuma, AZ $500.00
Anonymous $100.00
Gary R. Wellton, AZ $100.00
Janis Y. Wellton, AZ $50.00
Gerry S. Yuma, AZ $1,000.00
Joyce S. Cornville, AZ $1,250.00
Total: $3,450.00

Registration Statement: The Town of Wellton is a small rural town located in the south western part of Arizona. It is approximately 28 square miles and is home to approximately 2000 year round and 6000 seasonal citizens. The Wellton Police Department is made up of 6 certified police officers, including the Chief of Police. Due to the lack of man power, The Wellton Police Department only deploys one officer per shift. WPD officers often rely on their backup who at times is 20-30 minutes away. To be able to provide body cameras to our officers would not only benefit our department, but our community as well.

Why has your department decided to start a body camera program?
Sgt. Rodriguez: The department feels that the primary usefulness of body worn cameras lies in the ability to accurately capture instances of evidentiary importance. From something as simple as traffic violation to capturing the emotional state of a domestic violence victim immediately after the crime has happened, provides prosecutors with important insight that otherwise would have not have been available. In other words, the day to day functioning of capturing details of investigation and calls for service are paramount.

How do you believe a body camera program will benefit your officers, department as a whole and the community?
Sgt. Rodriguez: In addition to the day to day usefulness, officers received the ancillary benefit of protection against bogus, misconduct claims. Studies have also shown that the use of such devices has a direct effect on the behavior of both officers and citizens during police contacts, thus reducing complaints and instances of use of force incidents.

Are there any situations where having body camera video evidence would have made a difference in court cases or complaints against your officers?
Sgt. Rodriguez: Certainly, in any traffic hearing, the trier of fact must rely solely upon verbal testimony of officers and drivers in an effort to discover what actually occurred.  A simple recording from one of these devices potentially makes or breaks any traffic case, as the trier of fact now has a piece of physical evidence on what to base the decision.  From the simplest traffic case to the most felonious homicide, the camera is able to capture details that otherwise officers are relied upon to narrative in written form. The ability to actually see a witness, a victim or suspect state of mind, immediately after a criminal incident is invaluable.

Does your department have guidelines for a body camera policy? If so, what would the policy be? When would officers be required to record, etc.?
Sgt. Rodriguez: Yes, but it is constantly being evaluated and updated.