Raleigh eyes body cams for police; union skeptical

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Body cams could add extra dimension to police work.

If the Raleigh police officer who shot and killed Akiel Denkins last month had been wearing a body camera, it may have lessened some of the confusion and anxious moments that came after.

ABC11 was invited inside one of the companies vying to put a body camera on every RPD officer.

The founder of Raleigh's Envision Enterprise Solutions, Jim Friedrich, showed us his company's proposal that would add a whole new layer of digitized transparency to our interactions with police, the body camera.

Envision's camera and software doesn't just handle the video capture, it stores the video as well.

One of the biggest hurdles for many city and counties is the burdensome cost of storing the many hours of video recorded on body cams.

"Our company solves the entire problem from soup to nuts," Friedrich said.

Friedrich's company will be one of nearly two dozen vying to win a contract with Raleigh Police.

PREVIOUS STORY: Raleigh City Council votes to move forward with police body-cam pilot study

Tuesday, city council approved the police chief's proposal for a body-cam pilot program. The price tag? $5 million over five years.

"We're kind of concerned that $5 million is being dedicated to a new pilot program," said Brian Lewis, spokesperson for Raleigh's police union.

Lewis insists officers are not opposed to cameras, but are raising red flags about the cost. The union argues they're among the lowest-paid officers in Wake County, and they question the department's priorities in the body-cam purchase.

But Envision argues its patented video-data-storage system could save the city a bundle.

"Yes, absolutely we can save Raleigh money. We can save at least ($2.5 million)," Friedrich said.

RELATED STORY: Durham residents have doubts about police body-cam plans

Cops are also raising concerns about the cameras undermining public trust.

"People don't want to talk to police officers because they're being recorded constantly. Are we going to have a proliferation of police officers that have to make arrests because things are showing up on body cameras?" Lewis said.

"What (our company) has heard is that if the perception is that a recording is going on, if they see the camera on the officer, (a civilian's) behavior is going to change for the better," said Envision executive Wayne Davis.

As Raleigh moves forward with its pilot program, Durham is well into talks to bring body cameras to DPD.

Envision is also in the mix to bring its technology to the Wake County Sheriff's Office as well. WCSO is putting off a decision on body cameras until next year.

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