Medford adding video to police patrol cars

Medford is fitting its fleet of police patrol cars with digital video cameras to record traffic stops and people detained in the back seats of the vehicles.

"The new system is all digital and very user friendly," said police Sgt. Bob Sergi. "We should have them ready to go in a few weeks."

The cameras, which will be mounted to the ceiling of the cars above the windshields, will be activated when officers turn on emergency lights or when "the car reaches a certain speed to record any chases we engage in," Sergi said. A separate camera will film the back-seat holding area.

The department plans to film all traffic and pedestrian stops to use in court and to lessen liability claims against the police, he said.

Police once had two cars outfitted with cameras that used videotape but pulled them after the system proved bulky and ineffective, Sergi said.

"We had trouble deciding how to store the tapes, and the images were poor quality," he said.

In addition, officers will be equipped with wireless microphones to record all interactions with citizens.

— Chris Conrad

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