Selma Police Chief R.A. Cooper has asked four of his officers who have body cameras to temporarily stop using them until a formal departmental policy is in place.
Chief Cooper said the officers recently purchased the cameras with their own money and began wearing them on patrol. After consulting with the Johnston County District Attorney’s Office, the police chief said he asked the 4 officers to stop wearing them until an official policy could be implemented.
Cooper says he is in favor of body cameras and believes the 4 officers use of body cameras will be a good “pilot program” to see if they can be expanded to other patrol officers in the department. While the cameras may cost several thousand dollars, the chief says the biggest long-term cost will be for the storage of the video data. The 4 officers are currently paying for the data storage.
The Selma Town Council reviewed a 5-page body camera policy on Tuesday but postponed adopting the policy until several details could be more closely examined at a work session on May 26th. Mayor Cheryl Oliver also asked for one of the officers to demonstrate a camera to the town council at a future meeting.
Oliver said she would also like to hold a public hearing to receive feedback from Selma residents before allowing body cameras and adopting the guidelines.
When the body cameras were in use, Chief Cooper said it had its advantages. He said the officers acted in a more professional manner knowing their actions were being recorded. In one instance, a citizen wanted to file a complaint on an officer but after realizing a body camera had captured their interaction with police they decided against lodging the complaint.