Danville Police Say Body Cameras Help Give Unbiased Account, Could Have Helped In Ferguson

Danville, VA -- Police in Ferguson, Missouri do not have body-worn cameras. And many now question if the officers had one, would they know more about what happened between officer Darren Wilson and 18-year-old Michael Brown?

It has made a huge difference for the officers in Danville. And the department is working on getting all of the officers equipped, as soon as possible.

People say there are three sides to every story. For Danville Police, these cameras tell that third side.

"It has helped tremendously," says Cpt. Dennis Haley, Danville Police Department.

Haley says body-worn cameras have helped the Department for years separate fact from fiction.

"It is not have an allegation made against a police officer...The first thing I do now is pull up the video and look at it so I know what actually took place," says Haley.

Haley says more often than not, the video shows the officer in the right. But it's not always in their favor. While he says they have not found an officer doing anything illegal, they have used the video to make improvements.

"We use it as a training tool, if we see they are making a mistake, we point it out to them and we try to rectify it," says Haley.

And it can be a big help in court, too. According to an arrest warrant, a woman claimed an officer beat her during a traffic stop. But using the evidence from the body worn camera, police and a judge found otherwise. She now faces a $100 fine for filing a false police report.

Still, as Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Newman points out, these cameras are not perfect.

"It helps to give you an idea, even then though there is subjectiveness involved when you are looking at the video and what you are actually seeing," says Newman.

The cameras that the Danville officers have are always recording, but the officer has to quickly push a button to keep what it records or it is lost forever. Still, Newman says the tape can be one of the best forms of evidence.