CEDAR FALLS | The Cedar Falls Police Department has received 15 new body cameras, the result of a private fundraising effort.
Officers have had them about six weeks, Public Safety Director Jeff Olson said.
"It was 100 percent paid for by donations," Olson said. "We initially had an anonymous donor," of $2,000. "A little over $10,000 was raised."
The cameras have been operating well, Olson said. "We've gotten several arrests and incidents on video," including, for example a recent incident on Lone Tree Road where an individual was taken into custody on weapons and gun complaints following a foot chase.
"There's a few things we're experimenting with, like (camera) placement on the uniform," Olson said. Officers are each figuring out where to place them individually on their person where they will provide an unobstructed view and not be blocked when officers are holding a notebook taking down information, for example.
Police have enough cameras for an entire shift of officers, with a few left over on standby charging, Olson said. He said it's probablhy the right number for now, given possible changes in technology. That way if the camera technology improves, the department doesn't have to replace so many at one time.
The department already had three cameras in use for about two years, mainly on third shift overnight, before the most recent batch was received. Police also are setting up management software for the cameras.
The cameras were acquired from Wolfcom Enterprises of Hollywood, Calif.
The devices rose in popularity around the country in response to incidents of violent confrontations between officers and incidents in places like Ferguson, Mo., New York and Baltimore and allegations of police brutality. Olson has said body cameras are an imperfect but effective new tool for law enforcement, providing additional documentation of incidents.
Waterloo police are mounting a similar fundraising effort. In late August the Waterloo City Council's Finance Committee approved spending $90,000 to buy up to 150 body-worn cameras and upgrade the police video server. Funding for the cameras comes from a $35,000 grant from the Black Hawk County Gaming Association, nearly $21,000 in donations from a campaign started by resident Don Miller, a $10,000 federal grant through the Black Hawk County Attorney's Office and some city bond funds. The department currently has three cameras in use.
Waterloo Safety Services Director Dan Trelka has said it may be some time before the department's vendor can fill the order in Waterloo because of the current demand. Police have four on hand and are awaiting another 10. System upgrades are needed to accommodate data storage.
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