Special Report: Body of Evidence - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Special Report: Body of Evidence

Sikeston DPS Chief Drew Juden began with a handful of cameras more than a decade ago. Sikeston DPS Chief Drew Juden began with a handful of cameras more than a decade ago.
The cameras currently being worn by officers seem to hide in plain sight, a part of the uniform that doesn't draw a lot of attention. The cameras currently being worn by officers seem to hide in plain sight, a part of the uniform that doesn't draw a lot of attention.
In body cam video from Jan. 2015, the officer had the man take off his socks and shoes. You can see a small package falling from the suspect's sock. In body cam video from Jan. 2015, the officer had the man take off his socks and shoes. You can see a small package falling from the suspect's sock.
SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) -

You've heard the national debate, maybe even seen footage from other parts of the country.

But, you've never seen police body camera video from right here in the Heartland, until now.   

From a dangerous pursuit to a daily traffic stop, Sikeston Department of Public Safety officers have an added eye on crime.

Sikeston DPS Chief Drew Juden began with a handful of cameras more than a decade ago.

"This was the first body camera we started with," Juden said as he showed off a small camera built into the front of the police radio mic. 

Juden says this style worked well, but did have a three to four second delay after the officer turned it on.

He then showed a model of police stun gun that had a camera built on the bottom of the handle.

Juden said this style shot clear video, but only when the stun gun was pointed at a subject or engaged.

The chief says he started using camera to protect his officers.

"It has done that more than it's harmed us,” he said. "Our officers are very professional and do an excellent job. And it shuts down a lot of those 'Well, he said this'."

That question, he says, comes up every couple of months.

The cameras currently being worn by officers seem to hide in plain sight, a part of the uniform that doesn't draw a lot of attention.

"It sits right underneath the officer's duty collar."

Several people who live or work in Sikeston say they were not aware that officers wore cameras.

They all agreed it was a good idea, to protect not only the public but the officers as well.

We’ve seen a growing national debate on the use of officer-worn cameras after incidents in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere raised concerns about officer conduct and public safety.

Chief Juden agreed to give unprecedented access to his department's footage to stress how this video, he says, protects those on both side of the lens.   

"It gives us transparency," Juden said. "It gives information to us. It protects the officer as well as the citizens."

On August 16, 2015 around 1:30 a.m., Sikeston officers begin pursuing a car after a call of shots fired.

Sargent Ryan Smith realized his dash cam isn't working.

"I reached down and activated my body-worn camera to have some type of video to go along with what was going on," Smith said.

Now, DPS has the chase recorded from officer dash cam, and from Smith's eye-level perspective.

"They drove past my location and started throwing guns out of the passenger side of the car," Smith recalled as the pursuit continued.

As the chase comes to an end, you can see one of the suspects try to run away from another sergeant's dash cam video.

Cut to Smith’s body cam close-up and you can see the man bounce off the hood of Smith's cruiser. Smith gets out, pointing his weapon at the suspect in the backseat.

"Let me see your hands! Now! Get out of the car! Open the door! Get out of the car! Get on the ground!"

As Smith orders the young man out of the vehicle, you see his weapon drawn in the camera’s view.

The suspect is pulled from the car, then pushed down to the ground.

Smith quickly cuffs the man, then checks the status of the other suspects with his fellow officers.

Two months after that chase, I asked Smith about the video he thought to record.

What do you think when you go back and see something like that? Is that all in a day's work? Or do you realize at the time that it's that serious of a situation? 

"Everybody realizes how serious things are,” Smith said. "It is all in a day's work though. We come to work. We don't know what we're going to do."

DPS provided a second body cam clip from January. It was recorded as a man was being processed at the station.

The officer has the man take off his socks and shoes.

You can see a small package falling from the suspect's sock. 

Testing shows it's two grams of crushed prescription pain pills.

"You have the right to remain silent” you hear the officer tell him following the discovery. “Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law."

These clips give us a new perspective on how officers deal with the public, but what about the person on the other side of the lens? 

One of the biggest issues involving police body cameras is your privacy. 

Imagine an officer has to come to your house, probably for an emotional even a very volatile situation, and that camera is rolling.  Would you want anyone else to get the chance to see that video?

"Yeah I think it's a huge concern," Juden said. "Because while they want us there to protect them and interact with them, I'm not sure they want all that information public. And there's a huge balance there between privacy and the right to know."

While that battle's being fought on the state level, there's also hope the technology improves. 

A body camera is not going to provide that protection unless the officer remembers to turn it on. 

Juden says the next big upgrade will include the ability for the camera to turn itself on.

"I think that is the next step and I think it's the future."

"What do you want your citizens here to know about the use of body cameras and your officers?" I asked Juden.

"Well, I want them to feel safe,” he responded. “I want them to feel secure. I want them to know that we're trying to be as transparent and as pro-active as we can as a department.  And that camera's there to protect them as well as the officer."

Chief Juden thinks each department should decide if they want to add body cameras.

He calls it a huge investment to make.  His department currently has 25 cameras at a cost of $500 apiece, with an additional $500 per year per camera to store the video.

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