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Smile! Gilbert police completes force-wide rollout of body cameras

(AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

GILBERT, Ariz. — If you’re pulled over by Gilbert police officers, more than one set of eyes will be watching the interaction.

The department officially finished equipping officers with body cameras on Wednesday.

Sgt. Jesse Sanger said the cameras were planned well before the spotlight was cast on police violence following the uproar in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Part of having the body worn cameras is it protects the officers, as well.” Sanger said. “As you know, throughout the year we get several complaints.”

The body cameras, Sanger said, make it easier for police to look back at the actions of officers.

“The Internal Affairs Unit can pull the video right off the server, look at it … and see whether or not (police violence) did happen.”

The investment benefits everyone, said Sanger, from investigations and employee safety to providing transparency for the public.

Gilbert was not included in the U.S. Justice Department’s police camera grant announced last month. Instead, it began testing different body cameras two years ago.

The total cost for 170 cameras, support systems and one year of video storage hardware added up to just under $298,000. Fifteen of those cameras will be placed on standby, while the others are strapped on 12 patrol teams as part of the officers’ day-to-day uniforms.

Those officers include “all traffic enforcement officers, day and night, specifically traffic control, DUI enforcement, crime suppression officers and the criminal apprehension team,” Sanger said.

A handful of investigative detectives will not be required to wear the gear while on duty.

“Those officers who are working mainly at their desks,” Sanger said, adding they will have access to cameras if they need one when heading out in the field.

Training for using the cameras, loading up the data and record keeping began one year ago, with camera deployment released in phases.

“We just finished the last class yesterday, so we do have all 155 cameras deployed on the street now.”

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