TOWN AND COUNTRY, Mo. – A new wave of body cameras is hitting the streets across St. Louis County.
Town and Country police will be recording all patrol calls, including traffic stops. The department is one of seven joining together in St. Louis County (Bellefontaine Neighbors, UMSL, Moline Acres, Brentwood, Richmond Heights, and Clayton) to require officers to wear the new Panasonic Arbitrator cameras.
In less than a week and a half, Town and Country Police Corporal Ronnie Nicoletti was used to using the camera like the rest of his gear, he said.
About six Town and Country officers are now trying them out, with full implementation for all 23 patrol officers scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2. The body cameras are integrated with both the dash cameras and onboard
computers in their cruisers. Approximately 247 cameras total will cover all seven departments. Town and Country will have 30 of them, which includes 7 surplus units.
Nicoletti and his chief have no reservations about wearing the cameras, given nationwide protests over policing and the close-to-home case that fueled calls for body cameras across the US – the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson six years ago.
“Town and Country police officers will be required to activate their camera any time they have public interaction during the course of a law enforcement activity,” Chief Jim Cavins said. “It protects the officer from any type of false allegations. It also provides transparency for our community. No matter how big the city is, it holds our officers accountable as well as it protects them.”
Footage from the cameras will also be a training tool for improving policing techniques and relations with the community, he said.
The $350,000 cost for the first five years of the program is covered by a federal grant.