SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y (NEWS10) — There has been a national call for body cameras to be worn by police officers, and now officers on duty in Saratoga Springs are required to wear them at all times.
The pilot program for the cameras began about three years ago, but officers in the city started wearing the body cameras all the time earlier in 2015.
When an officer comes on duty, he or she is assigned a camera at the beginning of a shift. The camera is taken off a charged, clipped onto their uniforms, and then the officer is ready to go.
Sgt. Andrew Prestigiacomo works in the traffic division of the police department. He said the body cameras are user friendly.
“It’s a one button device where you tap it twice to actually initiate the camera to activate it,” he said. “Then hold it down for three seconds, and it will stop recording.”
Officers also get to decide when they turn the cameras on and off.
“I use my camera on every single traffic stop,” Prestigiacomo said. “I think it protects us. It protects the officer. It protects the public.”
Saratoga Springs Police Chief Greg Veitch said video from the body cameras helps officers document calls they respond to.
“You record the interaction,” he said. “It’s documented. It can be reproduced in court. It’s just part of what we do.”
He also said it works as another piece of evidence.
“It’s a learning process, of course, but from our perspective, it’s good to have the officers have another method of documenting what they get involved in,” he said. “So they can use the camera as one part of an investigation.”
More often than not, Veitch said the video shows his officers doing their jobs the right way.
“It really is showing officers going above and beyond in just routine everyday situations,” he said.
Prestigiacomo said he feels safer with the cameras because he never knows what he’s responding to.
“It could be just a routine traffic stop; it could end up being a high risk traffic stop,” he said. “So you have to think about what situation you are getting yourself into.”
At the end of a shift, officers take off the cameras and put it back on the charger at the department. Video from that day is then downloaded.