Raleigh police to begin testing of body cameras

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Raleigh Police officer Tom Zlockie

RALEIGH — The Raleigh Police Department will begin test body cameras this week with plans to eventually equip 600 officers over the next three years.The department will be testing body and dashboard cameras from three vendors over the next three to four months, with each company providing approximately 20 body-worn and five dashboard cameras.The Raleigh City Council voted to purchase body cameras in March, just weeks after a man was shot and killed by a Raleigh police officer. Akiel Denkins, 24, was killed Feb. 29 after Officer D.C. Twiddy attempted to apprehend Denkins on an outstanding warrant. A state investigation concluded Twiddy, 29, acted in self-defense, saying Denkins reached for a gun while the two were struggling while the officer was trying to take him into custody.RPD’s announcement of the testing also comes less than a month after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer killed 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott. The incident prompted protests and rioting in North Carolina’s largest city. Both body and dashboard cameras recorded the incident, but neither provided conclusive evidence of whether Scott was holding a weapon or threatening officers at the time of the shooting.The cameras will initially be tested under a special memorandum, though the department said other memorandums may be necessary to account for differences in technology in the three different systems.The special memorandum dictates when the cameras must be activated and can be deactivated, when their use is restricted, and the collection, handling and retention of the video recorded. In July, Sgt. G.K. Takano of the Raleigh Police Department said he and the force welcomed the use of body cameras.”Technology-wise, it’s been our experience that, with our in-car cameras, when we’ve had complaints the vast majority of complaints were proven to be false or unfounded by the use of cameras and audio that we have,” Takano said. “So by that experience, that body cameras would also now capture other aspects other than vehicle stops … there’s no reason to believe that it would not do that same thing.”Takano said cameras are another tool in investigating incidents, but, like the Charlotte shooting proved, are not always definitive.”If it improves transparency and ability to give additional evidence of what possibly could happen, the only thing that has to happen to that too is that the cameras in and off themselves capture and see better than the human eye can see,” Takano said. “All that has to be taken in context,” he added. “And a camera doesn’t tell you what I saw and how I perceived what I saw, and how I’m decision-making. … a camera doesn’t really tell everything. It gives you pictures so you can say, ‘Hey, what were you thinking? What did you see here?'”Citizens are welcome to submit comments at [email protected]