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Triad law enforcement already eyeing body cameras ahead of national push

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Police departments in the Triad don’t need the kind of push we’re seeing nationwide to get all officers and deputies equipped with body cameras.

Concerns over the death of the unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo. last weekend have petitions circulating. Groups are hoping that with enough signatures they can pressure the White House into requiring law officers to wear cameras.

Several law enforcement agencies in the Piedmont are following the Greensboro Police Department's lead and are already in the process of buying recording equipment for patrol officers including the Winston-Salem Police Department, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office and the Burlington Police Department.

"There are cases in court when you wished you would have had some of this on video when someone is fighting with or running from the officer," said Assistant Chief Chris Verdeck of the Burlington Police Department.

Right now, just two motorcycle officers are wearing the gear as the department determines which vendor to buy cameras from. Verdeck isn’t sure how quickly they’ll have the first patrols officers equipped with the gear.

Verdeck said as the equipment has become less expensive and easier to wear it's become more attractive for departments.

"The cameras when they first came out were fairly large, bulky," said Verdeck. "That added weight to the officers uniform was just prohibitive."

Officers in Greensboro wear a camera about the size of a candy bar. It prerecords so when officers turn it on they have the previous 30 seconds captured as well.

Greensboro police have found the video helps with criminal investigations and citizen complaints.

“They make the claim that the officer was rude or cursed them we review the footage and the whole thing was captured from before the officer approaches the car until after the citizen drives away,” said Deputy Chief Brian Cheek of the Greensboro Police Department.

Since the body cameras went into use last year 25 complaints about police misconduct have been determined to be baseless based on video evidence.