Registered Agency Spotlight: City of Foley Missouri Police Department
Registered Police Department Spotlight: City of Foley Police Department, Missouri
Department Donation Effort Contact: Chief Richard McDermott
Police Chief: Chief Richard McDermott
Link: Department Website
Number of officers: 4
Body Camera Goal: 4
Click here to donate to this department
Why has your department decided to start a body camera program?
Chief McDermott: It’s for officer safety and officer accountability. I’ll know if anybody makes a complaint against myself or my officers that body camera video can be used as evidence to save our department from being involved in a court case.
How do you believe a body camera program will benefit your officers, department and the community?
Chief McDermott: We’re in a small rural town of 161 people. We’re one of the major through-fairs in Lincoln County. We get a lot of traffic that goes through here especially in the summer. If we have any issues I prefer to discuss it before it goes to court, but now a days people will say whatever they want. Recently there was a case where people on Facebook accused two officers of pulling guns on their children and the media and public were ready to destroy them until the body camera footage they had proved they didn’t do it.
I’m old school and I have no problem walking a beat with a body camera on so everybody in the community gets an accounting of each other. A lot of communities lately are screaming for their police to wear body cameras, especially in Ferguson. I used to live in Ferguson right behind the police station, so I know that area. That’s one of the reasons I became a police officer. Years ago also people respected police officers and didn’t have attitudes like today.
Let’s say an officer shows up to a domestic disturbance call and you have people fighting, yelling and screaming and the situation is out of control, if the officers are wearing body cameras, it makes it that much easier to figure out what happened and who said and did what. After the fact someone may say “I didn’t do that or I didn’t say that”, well if you have body camera footage, you have it on tape and can prove they did.
Are there any situations where having body camera video evidence would have made a difference in court cases or complaints against your officers?
Chief McDermott: I just recently came out of retirement I can think of many cases where a body camera would have been perfect. Many physical altercations people getting into fights or being drunk in public, and many times you have no way to prove what happened except what you reported over your radio. In many cases, having body camera video evidence would have made a big difference in complaint or court cases.
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.?
Chief McDermott: We don’t have a body camera policy yet, but I would probably talk with other chiefs and departments in the area and get their advice on how to write up and implement a policy. And if an officer wasn’t wearing a body camera, they’d be subject to disciplinary action because the whole point of having them is to record all encounters with the public to protect them and our department. Also the policy would need to be approved by our Alderman and Mayor.