Washington’s New Camera

Abby Throndson, News Editor

Cameras recording fights. We often think of these videos on Twitter, circulating social media sites. Maybe it’s a video a kid throwing a recycling bin, maybe it’s a smashed window, maybe it’s a video of students being pick up by security guards. However, Washington’s School Resource Officer (SRO), Thaddeus Paisar, along with the other SROs in the school district will now be recording them as well.

Monday, Feb. 25, SROs around the district were trained and recieved body cameras. This has been a long time coming, in 2017 five cameras were purchased for the pilot program. In 2018, 110 cameras were purchased, and training for officers started. Then, in February, 35 additional cameras were purchased, and most have been distributed, including to the CRCSD’s SROs.

While SROs are the most recent officers to be outfitted with the cameras, they aren’t the last. “There are still some uniformed police supervisors that still need a camera to be issued to them.  The hope is that these additional cameras will be purchased next fiscal year starting July 1, 2019,” said CRPD Sgt. Jeremy Paulsen. “Each body camera costs approximately $915 and there are also associated costs for licensing and the cost of video storage.”

A negative about police worn video footage is the possible release of footage to the public. Greg Buelow, Cedar Rapids Public Safety Communications Coordinator, did assure that release of footage falls under compliance of the Iowa Open Records Law. Most of the footage will not be accessible to the general public and/or be spread online.

While the usage of body cameras in the United States police departments has been an ongoing controversy, the CRPD thinks that they will improve police interactions with the public. “I think it [the body camera] is an important thing to have because it’s going to make us do our jobs better,” said Washington’s SRO, Thaddeus Paisar. “It’ll hold officers accountable for their actions, which makes it more transparent if we’re doing things that we should not be doing.”