COLUMBIA — The Citizens Police Review Board decided Wednesday night that Columbia police officers should keep their cameras rolling.
Jennifer Bukowsky, an attorney with the Boone County Public Defender’s office, presented a proposal to the board calling for police officers to use cameras in their squad cars more often and to keep audio and video records longer.
“Taxpayers have already paid for them, and they are already installed,” Bukowsky said of the cameras. “They are with them everywhere they go.”
Bukowsky wants police officers to use cameras and audio recorders every time they respond to an incident and interact with the public. She also would like to see the police retain every video for up to a year. Currently, police officers must flag videos they feel are important to keep, and they control whether audio is recorded.
Bukowsky talked of multiple cases she has dealt with where questions arise about police-citizen interaction because there is no video.
“The only question should be what happened before the police show up,” Bukowsky said.
Bukowsky argued that increased video and audio surveillance would help the police by providing a more objective record of interaction and preventing false accusations of misconduct.
“I am glad for the Citizens Police Review Board," she said. "It gives the community confidence in the police. Increasing the video use will only add to that confidence.”
Board members agreed with Bukowsky and agreed to write a letter recommending the changes to Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton.
“I think it will be positive for everyone,” Ellen LoCurto-Martinez, the board's chairwoman said.
The Columbia police have been under heavy scrutiny after video of a February SWAT raid went viral on the Internet. LoCurto-Martinez said she did not feel increased video records would lead to more uproar.
“I am hoping that citizens will recognize that it's one mistake," LoCurton-Martinez said. "I think that there is enough respect for the Police Department to allow them to fix their mistake as long as it's not the same mistake.”