Selma police chief bans police body cams temporarily

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SELMA. N.C. (WNCN) – Selma may be a small town, but residents and elected leaders alike say it’s known for its very big thinking.

It’s part of the reason officials weren’t surprised when Selma officers took it upon themselves to buy and wear their own body cameras.

But the police department and those same leaders learned the technology and its use is a bit more complicated than it appears.

Police Chief Richard Cooper’s mission is to keep his residents and his 24 officers safe

Across the country this year, tensions between police and the communities they serve, as seen during the Baltimore riots, have made Chief Cooper’s mission sometimes a challenging goal.

Body cameras have been suggested as part of the solution.

“It’s probably a good thing for them to have proof one way or the other,” said Grant Chappell, a Selma business owner.

Selma resident, Shon McCourt believes the cameras are good thing because, “Some people are kind of scarred or intimidated by what they (officers) might say or what they’re gonna say so you got to watch what you say.”

A couple of Selma officers tried out body cameras, but later Chief Cooper said no.

The chief was unavailable for interview but Captain Ronald Daniels says that with no policy in place on the use of body cameras, the department was in a tricky position.

But the question remains, does Selma need body cameras.

Mayor Cheryl Oliver answered CBS North Carolina, “I believe they do.”

Oliver says that a policy is being drafted.

“It’s important that the policy though define when they use them how long the data is stored who can see the data,” she detailed.

Those are just a few hurdles.

Another major challenge is funding and extra staffing that may be required for it purposes.

The mayor is clear there are and will be setbacks.

“It is not an end all be all because the video footage is just one small component,” Mayor Oliver explained.

Despite all this, she and the chief expect these body cameras will be back on the streets, and soon.

Officials tell CBS North Carolina, it’s unclear when the policy will be completed and passed.

As well, they are still calculating how much new technology like this will cost the town.

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