LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — As the push for body cameras intensifies around the country and across the Kansas City metro, the Lee's Summit Police Department is weeks away from providing the devices to its officers. But officials said the process is not as quick as one would like.
"The cameras would've been delivered by now and been rolled out, except for the COVID delay caused shipping delays [and] caused some manufacturing delays,” LSPD Sgt. Chris Depue said. “We are probably four to six weeks out from having them truly instituted in place with our officers."
All 142 Lee’s Summit police officers will be wearing one within one to two hours of receiving them, Depue said, but the department spent nearly three years looking into the devices first.
In Grandview, the police department rolled out body cameras in early 2019 but spent nearly five years testing different types, costs and vendors before outfitting all 58 of its officers.
"The storage and the ongoing support and maintenance agreement is what can cause challenges to a city or department’s budget,” said Sgt. Martin Studdard, of the Grandview PD's Special Enforcement Unit. “The size of the department and the size of the municipality or the organization definitely comes in to play there."
Both departments have the same policy of use – every time an officer has an encounter with the public, the officer will activate the body camera.
More than one year after implementing body cameras, Studdard said the biggest learning curve is learning to turn it on.
"That's a muscle memory," he said. "That's some thing that you have to train into yourself that as you're getting out of the car, as you're rolling up to the call, or as you're stepping through the doorway, you're activating the body-worn camera."
Depue said it can be difficult, for example, if an officer is going into a gas station for a soda and someone asks for directions.
"Then all of a sudden they are in a contact where they've got to be able to get their camera back on," Depue said. “But officers know – if I'm going on a call for service, whether it be anything, a traffic crash all the way up to a homicide, I need to have my camera on."
Grandview’s body-worn cameras have a 30-second auto pre-record to back up the recording and capture the information leading up to the officer pressing start.
“A camera is impartial," Studdard said. "It captures the good the bad and the ugly. It doesn't care what it's capturing, it just captures."
41 Action News reached out to Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forte to see where the county is at with a plan for body cameras, and he provided the following statement:
"The Jackson County Sheriff's Office is committed to building and nurturing trust in our community. Body worn cameras are being researched as well as a funding source being identified."
The Lee's Summit Police Department body-camera policy can be found on the city website.