by: Ken Lemon Updated:
CHERRYVILLE - The Cherryville Police Department is building itself back up after a scandal involving fellow officers rocked it more than a year ago.
Starting next week, all patrol officers in Cherryville will have video cameras on their shoulders. The department hopes these body cameras will help in their mission to regain the public’s trust.
With one click, the camera will record every interaction an officer has with the public.
Erin Williams is one of two officers testing the camera system right now. She has worn it for about a week.
“I turn it on, but I don’t even think about it being on and still recording,” said Williams.
The police chief said this new tool is a necessity for a department in which three officers recently were convicted for providing security for a criminal enterprise while off duty, and a former chief was indicted for embezzling money.
“This is a new day. We are a new agency. We put the past behind us,” said Chief Chad Hawkins.
However residents still give the force a black eye.
“I think to some degree they’re still skeptical about it,” said resident Wylie Stansell. “We want people to know that they can trust their police department.”
Stansell said the city wants to be proud of the department again and he thinks the cameras will help.
“We want people to know they can trust their police department,” said Hawkins.
The camera can record up to 12 hours’ worth of video. Officers will be required to record every public encounter so any complaints from the public will be available for review.
“It helps ensure that we have professional standards,” Williams said.
Officers will not be able to record in restrooms or any place where people expect a level of privacy. The cameras were paid for by a $5,000 donation from an anonymous resident.
Video footage will be kept on a secure drive for 90 days unless it is needed for case evidence.