Police test new body cameras for officers

WICHITA — Wichita police are testing a new body camera system for use by officers.

The camera, which is about the size of a Bluetooth phone, is worn on the officer's head, hat or eyewear, providing video of what the officer sees and does, Capt. Jeff Easter said.

Six officers are in the midst of a four-week evaluation period, which lasts until Feb. 24. Video from the cameras has already provided evidence in more than one case, Easter said.

Officer Rich McCluney said the system is so light he forgets he is wearing it. The camera is activated by pressing a button on a device clipped to his chest where the microphone for his portable radio normally went.

The system is produced by Taser. An evaluation of the system's costs and effectiveness will be presented to the department's executive staff, which will then decide whether to add the cameras to the department, Easter said.

Cameras mounted on the dash of traffic enforcement cars are already used by the department, Easter said. The body camera system is being tested as an additional tool, he said — not a replacement.

The cameras cost $5,000 each, which includes storage for a year, Easter said. Annual storage costs after that run $1,200 a year.