Jackson Police wants every officer to have a body camera


JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — When you interact with police in a mid-Michigan community, just know that what you say or do could soon be caught on camera.

6 News talked with the Jackson Police Department about the effort to get body cameras for every officer in the city.

Over the years, the department has tried out a small number of body cameras.

And now, they’re ready to fully enter 21st century police work.

“I do think the cameras have finally gotten to the point where they’re functioning well,” said Chief Elmer Hitt.

Chief Hitt says the police department has saved up $24,000.

And if a $28,000 grant comes through they’ll have enough money to buy 42 body cameras.

“That would give us one for each patrol officer and have some additionals,” Chief Hitt said.

Jackson intends to buy the same body camera system that’s already in use by two other law enforcement agencies in the county, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Blackman-Leoni Township Public Safety.

“Speaking with them, they’re very happy with this system and it seems to be working well. This also helps us share video with the Prosecutor’s Office,” Chief Hitt said.

The chief says body cameras have the potential to benefit everyone by protecting police and the people they serve.

“There are times when we don’t always get it right. And the citizens don’t always get it right. So having that can quite often prove what was said, what type of statement was made and what kind of actions were taken,” Chief Hitt said.

Chief Hitt says police will be mindful of maintaining people’s privacy when it comes to releasing video.

They’ve already sent in the grant application.

But before officers can hit the record button, a public hearing must take place, and final approval is needed from the Jackson City Council.

They’d like to get cameras attached to officers as soon as possible.

“A Jan. 1 deadline to have the system here, installed, and operating to get our officers trained,” Chief Hitt said.

Citizens can share their opinions on body cameras at the Sept. 26 city council meeting.

It’s taking place at 6:30 p.m. at Jackson City Hall.

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