The Cheyenne Police Department would like to equip its officers with body cameras, and is asking the Cheyenne City Council to approve funds for 75 body cams, as well as 75 dashboard cams to replace the current ones.
Last year, the Wyoming Legislature passed a bill limiting the kind of footage from police body and dashboard cameras that can be requested and viewed by the public. The law limits that footage to incidents involving deadly force and complaints against law enforcement, or if the footage is in the interest of public safety.
Officer Kevin Malatesta with the Cheyenne Police department said the new regulation encouraged the agency to upgrade its technology.
“The Chief really wanted to make sure we were protecting the rights of the citizens,” said Malatesta, “that we had those issues resolved regarding privacy before we would initiate something for body cameras.”
The idea behind the upgrade is to keep the department accountable by documenting interactions with the public. Malatesta said the cameras could also lead to a reduction in use of force incidents and complaints against the service.
Officers will be required to have body cams turned on any time their duties could lead to an arrest or citation.
“Now there are some times when those body cameras could be deactivated,” explained Malatesta, “such as when we’re interviewing a victim, and that victim would feel uncomfortable having that interaction be recorded, as well as incidents where officers are talking to people, or going about daily business without being part of an investigation.”
The cost of the cameras is over $700,000, which would be split between state grants and city dollars coming from the sale of the old police department building.