Body camera video released for the first time as more officers get cameras

Published: Feb. 20, 2020 at 6:19 PM CST
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The Lincoln Police Department's traffic unit is the latest to get body cameras.

It's something they've been waiting for for years since the department first started adding cameras in 2017.

"Anything that helps us with our job is a good thing for us to have," Officer John Fencl, with the traffic unit, said.

The traffic unit is the third group of officers to get the cameras. The northwest and center teams were first.

"They're slowly implementing them," Sgt. Michael Muff said.

The cameras help the department in a few different ways.

First, they add another layer of accountability, Muff said.

"It's really good for me as a sergeant," Muff said. "With as many contacts my officers have if there are any complaints I'm able to review them."

It also helps officers with their records.

"We can replay something that happened to verify what we saw the first time and make sure we're remembering it correctly," Officer Ty Denney with the traffic unit said.

This can come in handy if cases go to court.

"I'll review the video before going to court to make sure I remember what happened because it can sometimes be two months to a year before court," Fencl said.

The cameras cost $1,000 apiece, and that doesn't include the holsters, docking and charging stations, software or the upkeep.

It's why the department is phasing them in slowly as funding is made available.

Eventually, every officer will have one.

It's important to note that the public isn't likely to see this body camera video very often.

Lincoln Police Jeff Bliemeister said the department only releases video when it impacts public safety and that would likely only happen once a case is fully closed and out of the court process.

In about three years of using body camera footage, this is the first time video has been released.