All DC police officers now equipped with body cameras

WASHINGTON — Every D.C. police officer is now equipped with a body-worn camera and the chief expects some challenges ahead, despite an extensive pilot program within the department.

The police union is behind the program which began as a pilot in October 2014 to study the differences between the 1,300 officers who responded to calls wearing the cameras and the 1,300 who did not.

“They turn them on whenever they have a call for call for service or whenever they’re going to have an interaction with the public,” said Interim D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham.

Newsham expects routine challenges for the program, despite officers’ scenario-based training.

“The veteran officers, this is new for them. You could have a circumstance, and this happens on a not so uncommon basis, where they have to do something; something as simple as a fight breaks out. Really what the officer is thinking about is breaking up fight, not necessarily thinking, ‘Oh, I have to turn the camera on,'” he says of training.

If it’s discovered an officer intentionally turned off his or her camera, they’ll be held accountable, he said.

All officers were equipped with the body-worn cameras in mid-December, Newsham confirmed.

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Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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