St. Louis police worried about patrol car cameras

At the center of concerns are two officers fired for actions recorded on dash cam

By PoliceOne Staff

ST. LOUIS — Officers in St. Louis are concerned dashboard cameras installed in their cruisers are being used against them and sometimes go to lengths to avoid using them, internal emails indicate.

"We are missing critical evidence for our cases when we allow them to avoid using vehicles with cameras in them, for fear of being caught in a compromising position," Capt. Mary Edwards-Fears wrote to senior staff. "Your job as managers in the business is to assist your officers in following the rules and regulations, not assisting them in circumventing them."

At the center of concerns are two officers placed on probation after a woman claimed they planted drugs and guns on her son, 16, according to In-car video was used to exonerate them of that claim, but also showed one officer strike the suspect, which resulted in the firing of both.

The police union wants the department to draft a policy on how to use cameras for discipline, citing inconsistencies in use of the recordings.

"Officers should know what the cameras are going to be used for, when the cameras are activated and how they will be reviewed and what the discipline will be if you have a violation that results from the cameras," Jeff Roorda of the Police Officers Association said.

St. Louis police began using dashboard cameras about a year ago through donations by a private support group, and today about 140 vehicles have them.

Police Chief Dan Isom said the number of cops reprimanded over what supervisors see in videos is "very little."

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