SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — The City of Southaven took the first step Wednesday toward outfitting its police officers with body cameras.
In a matter of 10 minutes, the Southaven board of aldermen voted unanimously to enter into a demo contract with a provider to test body cams and in-car cameras.
Southaven Police Chief Macon Moore said this has been a priority since he took the reigns in July.
Moore said he is anxious to get the first trial run started with the Axon company, the same company that supplies cameras worn by Memphis Police.
"It's a 30-day trial that will start at the end of this month," Moore said. "Once we're done with that, we have several other vendors who have contacted us, and we want to test their equipment."
He anticipates it may take up to four months to pick a firm and hopes to have cameras on officers and in vehicles by the end of the summer or early fall.
Moore said this is not a hasty decision to make, and his department has already established a policy for recording, storing, redacting and sharing video.
"One of the first questions we're asked by the prosecutors is if there's video available," Moore said. "Nowadays jurors expect to see a video. For evidentiary purposes, we're very excited about the camera systems."
The Axon 3 camera that's scheduled for testing allows for real-time viewing by command staff.
"It makes my job a lot easier as an administrator when I get a complaint on an officer, within five minutes I can pull the camera footage up and know whether we've made a mistake or whether the citizens made a mistake," Moore said.
The implementation of body cameras is welcomed news to DeSoto County resident Betty Palmer.
"I think it's a great idea because that way everything is recorded, and there's no question about whether the policeman is in the right or the wrong about what he does to apprehend criminals," she said.
Body cameras were not available in 2017 when Ismeal Lopez was fatally shot by officers who went to the wrong address while trying to serve a warrant or when a disgruntled Walmart employee killed two people in Southaven last July.
"Our goal to eventually have body cameras on all of our officers has a two-pronged purpose; one, to ensure the utmost standards of professionalism by our police, and two, to protect our police from ridiculously false accusations that are commonplace in our society now," said a statement from Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite.
WREG will keep up with any developments.