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Racine police officers will all soon have body cams

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RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) – All Racine police officer will soon have body cameras.

The chief outlined the program to the council Wednesday.

“This program was four years in the making,” said Chief Art Howell while addressing the Racine Common Council.

“It’s a topic of great concern, and we want to make sure we give it the appropriate attention that it deserves,” he said.

The department has been working on getting body cams since 2015.

They are compatible with their existing dash cams, turn on automatically in some cases, and the chief hopes they will give the public more transparency.

“Bringing the body cameras into the field, it’s my expectation that we’re going to know more about what’s going on in the field,” said Howell.

Residents are all for the cameras, but want to make sure they’re used the right way.

“If we spend all of this money and invested all of these resources, let’s get this right,” said one Racine resident at the meeting.

The biggest concern is making sure the cameras are turned on when police come in contact with the public.

The chief assured people they would be, but residents want to make sure it’s a written policy that outlasts the chief.

“We have to be talking about policy that's longstanding when Chief Howell is gone and Mayor Cory Mason is gone and the Common Council has changed,” said the resident.

“You’re absolutely right, said Chief Howell. "Policy has to basically live longer than the people who occupy the seats."

The chief is eager to get the cameras in the field, and says the officers welcome them as well.

“A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like to be in the field, and the only way you would know is to encounter this visually,” he said.

Some cameras are already in the field, and the chief anticipates all his officers will be wearing them in the near future.

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