City police to carry mics, cameras

Published 7:40 pm Wednesday, June 11, 2008

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
Brewton Police officers have their eyes and ears on the public at all times - and now they'll be recording everything, too.
Police Chief Monte McGougin won city council approval Tuesday for funds to pay for new microphone and voice recording systems for each officer. Unlike more expensive video systems installed in cars, these mikes will go with the officers at all times and record what they see and hear.
Each unit costs $700, compared to $5,000 per car unit. McGougin said he actually prefers the less expensive model, because the car units can only record what happens near a car.
Often, officers have to pit their word against that of a suspect - and if they differ, the issue can lead to a lawsuit or a lost criminal case, McGougin said.
In fact, a resident came before the council Tuesday to express her concerns about an incident involving police at her house. Mayor Ted Jennings and city attorney Ed Hines advised Suzanne Miller that, because she was planning to speak about specific officers, she needed to go through other channels - Hines and City Judge Bill Stokes - rather than speaking at the public meeting.
The Rev. H.K. Matthews, who attended the meeting, told the council that while he has had mostly good experiences with the police department, he hoped that the police and city council would consider the new microphone systems will protect citizens as well as police officers.
The total cost of the new camera and microphone systems will be $13,380. Part of that cost will be offset by a 911 grant.
McGougin told the council he hopes residents will realize that officers are wearing the new systems and recording what happens.

Email newsletter signup