Spring Lake puts body cameras on every police officer

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Every Spring Lake Police officer on patrol now carries an extra set of eyes -- a body camera. (WTVD)

Every Spring Lake Police officer on patrol now carries an extra set of eyes -- a body camera.

"I feel like it gives me a bit more comfort," said Officer Maynard Smith. "Knowing that stories won't be misinterpreted. The camera can't lie at the end of the day."

Spring Lake Police Chief Troy McDuffie said body cameras are now standard issue in his department.

"There are situations," McDuffie said, "when an officer doing his job is put in a situation where there is some type of use of force, or a deadly use of force. This is a tool that we can use to ensure there is fairness."

Following the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri citizens group called for police departments across the country to use body cameras. However, McDuffie said he's been looking at body cameras for the past two years, and only now, he said, have they become more affordable.

He has purchased body cameras for all 30 sworn officers on his force, including detectives. McDuffie said they can could use body cameras while investigating a crime scene.

"I think it's a good tool," the chief said. "One that protects the officers and citizens."

Several law enforcement agencies in the state use body cameras, but on a limited basis. Town officials say Spring Lake is the first department to equip all its officers.

"The department's standard operating procedure directs officers to activate the body camera whenever they interact with the public," said McDuffie.

That could help settle a citizen's complaint or questions about suspect's arrest. Keeping the true facts in clear focus.

"We have a really open complaint policy and if a citizen feels they have been wronged, they will have that opportunity to bring it to the department's attention," said McDuffie. "This tool gives us a resource to ensure that we get to the bottom of what took place."
Smith said he welcomes the extra set of eyes.

"You know at the end of the day, if you have done nothing wrong, there is nothing to worry about," he said.

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