ECU Police get early arrival with body cameras


GREENVILLE, Pitt County - Body cameras on police officers is a controversial issue.

Some believe they are helpful while others think the cameras are too intrusive. Nevertheless, East Carolina University Police received the cameras on Thursday, a few weeks earlier than originally anticipated.

"I don't think this is something that has been done in haste," said Chris Sutton, a spokesperson for the ECU Police Department.

Sutton said money from the university helped the department get the cameras ahead of schedule. The department has waited nearly two years and originally didn't think they'd get them until the beginning of next year.

"If you don't have a camera then you don't have any way to review the actions of the officer," Sutton said.

So what's been the holdup? Some law enforcement agencies in Eastern North Carolina have had cameras for years while others are waiting for grants for them.

"Won't put any burden hopefully on the taxpayers," Sutton said.

Currently, the Pitt County Sheriff's Office doesn't have any way to record deputies in the field. With each camera running, about $1,000 and even more money for software to store the footage, it's a significant investment.

Kip Gaskins of the PCSO said it's something they continue to pursue.

"Just having that transparency into what we do and how we do things and not leaving anything to question," Gaskins said. "You're not just trying to find the cameras, you're trying to find the camera that you have the infrastructure to be able to maintain the data that comes off the cameras"

For ECU PD, the data is managed by a specific controller, making sure what's recorded is used for the right purpose.

"When you do have a case or there is a question about some type of activity that an officer was involved in that you can go back and retrieve that video," Gaskins said.

We also reached out to other counties to see which departments have body cameras. Jacksonville Police Department does not currently have officers with body cameras but are working to get them. Kinston Police Department has had body cameras since 2014 with most patrol officers wearing them.

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