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State joins effort to test police body cameras on troopers, others

Delaware Public Media

Delaware is taking steps toward creating a single state-wide policy on use of police body cameras.

The state has put out a request for information on camera and storage technology to try out with troopers and Georgetown police. They plan to test out a dozen cameras to start.

The program comes after legislators called for one policy on how cameras are used and video stored across the state's many police departments. Homeland security secretary Lew Schiliro says that would alleviate issues that could arise in the courtroom:

"I mean, think about somebody on the witness stand, and the defense attorney's asking, 'How come you didn't record it? Officer Jones did,'" Schiliro says. "So I think if we can come up with consistency in the state, it's going to be a huge step forward."

New Castle County is running its own pilot program. Officials there haven't finalized their policy on camera use, but said in July they aimed to have cameras on during most officer interactions with a citizen.

But Schirillo says he feels cameras should only have to be used during arrests and detentions or when an officer is using force.

"The last thing we want to have happen is the only time we'll believe a police officer is when there's a tape. That shouldn't be the case," he says. "We should use these cameras to ensure the protection of the public, not so we have to record every interaction a police officer has with the public. And there very well may be a happy medium to that."

Plus, he says turning cameras on and off too frequently could undermine their use in promoting transparency. The state is working with the Delaware Police Chiefs Council to hash out the details of any future policy.

CORRECTION: Due to incorrect information provided to Delaware Public Media, this story originally stated that New Castle County would join the state's pilot program. In fact, the county is maintaining a separate program and policy until the state's is finalized. This story has been updated.

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