NEWPORT NEWS-It's said a picture is worth a thousand words. Video can be worth even more to police working the streets.
Those dashboard video cameras in their patrol cars giving way to body cameras. The devices are worn on an officer's lapel or clipped onto their glasses. Unlike dashboard cameras, a body camera records everything the officer sees and hears. When he moves, it moves.
The Newport News Police Department began using the cameras this summer. The city cruisers still have dashboard cameras, but the city wants to phase them out.
"Not everybody trust us. It's just a fact of life. It keeps everybody honest," said Captain Stacy Kelly.
He says the cameras have cut down on citizen complaints and on the use of force by officers.
"Once a hostile civilian realizes they're being recorded, they will modify their behavior," Kelly noted.
Body cam video has been already been used in court. In one case, a person was arrested for disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice. The officer's version of what happened was different than that of the defense attorney, so the body cam video was played to see who was telling the truth.
"His client pleaded guilty," Kelly remarked.
The video is downloaded onto a Website called evidence.com. There are state guidelines for how long its stored. If there's no value, the video is deleted after 30 days.
"I think our homicides are kept forever," said Kelly.
The Windsor Police Department in Isle of Wight County has been using body cameras for two years.
"I'm a firm believer that an impartial eye whenever possible is best. A camera has no opinions," said Police Chief Vic Reynolds.
Chesapeake Police also are using body cameras. Poquoson, Hampton, James City County, Norfolk, Va. Beach and York Co. are not planning to purchase body cameras in the near future.