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Police in NC city consider body cams after Ferguson incident

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CARTHAGE, N.C. — Police in Carthage are the latest in North Carolina to try outfitting officers with body cameras.

Police Chief Bart Davis said one officer has been wearing a camera from a company called VieVu for the last 6 weeks, and Davis would like to make them permanent and mandatory.

“They’re less likely to step out of line,” Davis said. “It also gives them a sense of comfort with the fact they know that they’re not going to have frivolous complaints coming in.”

The Hoke County Sheriff’s Department implemented the cameras a few days ago. The Greenville Police Department also uses them.

Davis said his department was interested in the cameras because costs have come down in the last few years while battery life has improved. But the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, spurred even more interest.

Eyewitness accounts vastly differ from how police said Brown ended up shot to death. Body cameras, however, could help alleviate any doubts.

“A lot of what they’re dealing with right now, I think … would have been resolved at this point simply because you’re going to have first-hand video, audio of what happened,” Davis said.

But Moore County Chief Deputy Jerrell Seawell said there are potential drawbacks, such as the amount of storage needed for the video and possible privacy issues if an officer recorded video on private property. Seawell’s department is also looking into purchasing body cameras.

“There would be some issues that come into play,” Seawell said. “And that’s where we’d have to really scrutinize the policy that we put into place here.”

Taxpayers are doing their own scrutiny. Selena Andrews, of Morrisville, said she thinks the body camera go “a little too far.”

“I think that the officers just probably need a little bit more training,” Andrews said.

Wayne Louya of Carthage disagreed. He supports the use of body cameras and believes they will benefit both the public and police.

“Everything else is on camera. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea,” he said.

Spokespersons for both the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Durham Police Department said their departments are looking into the use of body cameras as well.