West Memphis Police to soon get body-worn cameras

Updated: Apr. 15, 2021 at 5:21 PM CDT
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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - West Memphis police will soon be getting body cameras.

The city council unanimously passed a request by the mayor to spend $90,000 to buy those body cameras.

West Memphis resident, Pernicius Watkins, is pleased the city council approved body cameras for police officers.

“That way we know something may not be accurate. I mean someone could be accused of something that didn’t happen. I think the body cameras would be good,” he said.

West Memphis Mayor, Marco McClendon, believes the cameras can help with relationships between police and the community.

“It builds relationships through our police and our community and it allows me to maintain and make sure police officers are treating you right during a stop and also allegations we may get against our police officers,” said McClendon.

McClendon found the $90,000 needed for the body cameras in the budget.

He asked the city council to approve it.

The council asked a few questions after hearing from West Memphis police captain, Joel Johnson, who will oversee the use of the Watch Guard cameras and the video.

The council then voted to approve the cameras.

“We already have Watch Guard operational in our cars. The body cameras would work with the car cameras and will be able to function simultaneously,” said McClendon.

The plan is to buy 12 cameras.

Mayor McClendon points out that body cameras have proven to be important when it comes to what is happening across the country with body cameras showing what happened in the George Floyd case and the Daunte Wright case where a gun was used instead of a taser.

In one 2017 case in West Memphis, a suspect was injured after bailing out from a high speed chase.

He said police beat him but the dash camera didn’t capture the takedown.

But it is definitely a case where police body cameras could have shown what happened.

Mayor McClendon said the officers could be using the body cameras in about two months.

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