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OPD to receive 115 body cameras after city...

Posted at 11:22 PM, Dec 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 00:22:57-05

In an unanimous decision by the Omaha city council, the Omaha Police Department will receive 115 body cameras. This will cost $733,000 dollars--all raised privately.

It's a law enforcement tool that could protect or help convict both suspects and the officers wearing them.

The department has been trying them out for the past couple of years, and Tuesday they got the final approval to use them for real.

"A body camera can capture both the good and the bad," said Omaha city councilman Garry Gernandt.

Gernandt said these cameras will be a huge asset to the force, "When an officer goes on a particular scene whether it's an accident scene or domestic violence or even a routine report call. Activating a body camera with a couple of taps, the moving of a lens cover sort of has an effect on someone that they know they are being recorded, hopefully they will continue to tell the truth".

The body cameras come at a time where there's a national outcry for local police departments to have them. The NAACP demanded police departments use them after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager in August of 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

The Bellevue Police Department has been using these cameras for over 2 years and it has already made an impact.

"The recordings have been used as evidence in Sarpy County court on several occasions already," said Lori Synowiecki with the Bellevue Police Department.

Police say it's also a benefit having cameras outside of the police cruiser.

"We can be away from the car and capture recordings of incidents and gather evidence," said Synowiecki.

But city leaders say one of the main reasons these cameras are so crucial, it boosts confidence in the police department.

"It's important to have that public confidence both for our officers but also the general public  in terms of how they operate and have that data available should it be needed in daily operations or court proceedings," said city council member Pete Festersen.

OPD will receive the cameras in the next 2-4 months. Festersen said eventually the goal is to have 400 body cameras.