Local police departments hope for body camera funding

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- The U.S. Department of Justice announced a $20 million initiative to provide funding to local police departments to buy body cameras.

In Burlington, the police department has 12 cameras already, but Chief Jeffrey Smythe said his department will apply for the federal funds because he would love for every officer to have one.

"The public perceives body cameras as a mechanism of accountability and transparency," he said. "And I agree."

Body cameras cost about $1,000 each upfront, but Smythe said maintenance, training and storage of data is an additional yearly expense.

Smythe said he has already applied for city funding to buy additional body cameras, but will apply for any grant that could help him get more.

"We're always going to apply for every grant that we're eligible for," he said.

Chris Edwards is one of the Burlington police officers who already wears a body camera. He said it's been useful and has led to multiple arrests.

"It allows me to record conversations and confessions that I probably wouldn't normally get," he said.

The Eden, Graham and Elon Police departments said they, too, would be applying for the federal funding. None of their departments currently have body cameras.

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