Report: Body-worn Cameras Beneficial, Prince William Co. Police Chief Says

WASHINGTON — The Prince William County police department tested body-worn cameras on 30 officers for 60 days, and Chief Barry Barnard said the officers found it to be beneficial and an overall success.

The next step is to get a green light from county supervisors to implement the program full-time, at an estimated cost of $600,000 to start, then $700,000 per year, Inside NOVA reports.

“When you first turn on the camera and go out on day one, it’s a learning process for the officers, but what we’ve found is that officers appreciate the cameras. If we move forward, we want to move slowly, crawl before you walk, and make adjustments based on continued feedback from all stakeholders,” Barnard told Inside NOVA.

Officers have the discretion to determine when to turn the cameras on or off. State laws prevent sensitive footage from being released.

For instance, he suggested that any footage deemed “evidentiary” by the department could be shielded from disclosure through a public records request, as could any video depicting “victim statements, witness statements from sexual assault victims, or footage from inside a hospital.”

Barnard said the body-worn cameras were most valuable when dealing with citizen complaints or providing court-evidence. A board meeting Jan. 17 tabled the issue for a future closed-door session.

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