South Bend residents weigh in on police dashcam, bodycam policies

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The second in a series of moderated community meetings between citizens and the city of South Bend happened Thursday evening at the Charles Black Community Center.

Thursday’s topic of focus was body cameras.

16 News Now covered a story in early August focusing on another issue in the community: police dashboard cameras.

“I think they should be recording the entirety of their shift,” Emily Allison said. “Just with the day and age we live in right now, I think it’s important, it’s imperative, I think to be liable for what they’re doing.”

As it stands in South Bend, dashcams only record when the light bar is on or when a patrol car hits a certain speed.

“I feel as if they should keep bodycams on as well as dashcams on at all times,” John Smithmeyer said.

After that previous story about dashcams, many at home weighed in. 16 News Now had more than 200 comments, with many calling for recording an officer’s full shift. Here’s some of those comments:

- “Both dash- and bodycams need to roll the entire shift”
- “All cams should not be at the officer’s control, that’s kind of the point”
- “Cameras should be on the entire shift, body and dash”
- “You as a public servant have no right to privacy while on duty”
- “They’re an arm of the government with the authority to kill citizens at will, they should have the highest level of accountability and transparency “
- “Seems like keeping them on at all times protects the public and the officer”

Harvey Mills, the president of the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 36, issued the following statement on the issue:

“The storage costs for the footage can be staggering. If the police department kept and stored videos from the entire shift, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more to store footage of police officers sitting at red lights or filling out paperwork. South Bend already doesn’t have enough police officers on the streets to deal with the violent crime and shootings that seem to happen daily, and any additional money should be spent putting more officers on the streets.”

“Saying something personal, maybe that’s reason not to not have it on at all times” Meghan Kirwan said. "Having the ability to turn it off and on, there could be foul play."

“It should be on, no questions asked,” Mark Sawyer said. “If it’s not on, it’s a crime not to be on.”