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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575

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Editorial: Cameras protect policemen

Sunday, June 9, 2013

When Martinsville police officers hook a camera to their shirts or neckties, they get a level of protection they otherwise would not have.

The city officers have been wearing the cameras for about seven months. They were given to the department by the Virginia Municipal League, which was the city’s insurance provider at the time, as protection against frivolous lawsuits.

The cameras proved their worth this spring when a city man alleged that during a well-being check at his home, a city officer removed part of the man’s wife’s clothing and allegedly fondled her, according to reports. When the husband reportedly attempted to intervene, the man and his wife both claimed another officer allegedly patted his holstered firearm and said, “You’d better rethink getting up because that’s not a good idea right now,” reports stated.

The cameras showed otherwise, and the couple has since been convicted of filing a false police report. Each was sentenced to 12 months in jail with 11 months suspended, ordered to pay $236 in costs and fined $100.

If the officers had not been wearing the cameras, it would have been their word against the couple’s. The officers’ reputations and possibly their careers could have suffered, when in fact they did nothing wrong.

Now, the public knows that if they are going to make allegations against the city police, they need to be valid complaints that will stand up to the camera’s lens. If they are not, there could be consequences. At the same time, the cameras can help determine the truth if citizens claim they have been mistreated by police.

We suspect as word spreads of the cameras’ value, more and more law enforcement agencies will use them, just as they do with in-car cameras. Anyone on the right side of the law should welcome that.


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