UW-Milwaukee police officers getting body cameras

MILWAUKEE - UW-Milwaukee is equipping its police officers with body cameras.

All 33 officers and sergeants should have one by the first week of November. They will be worn at the center of their uniform shirt.

University police believe the cameras will increase student trust, provide an objective record of interactions, and help officers document evidence.

UW-Milwaukee police have had squad car cameras for more than 10 years. They say body cameras will offer another level of transparency.

The students we talked with are all for it.

"Just to know there's evidence or proof of things, I think it's a good idea," said Bethany Griffin.

"Ultimately, it's all about accountability," another student said. "If they're wearing body cameras, you can guarantee that every single officer who's wearing a uniform will be held accountable if something should go wrong. And at the very least, they will act in accordance of that uniform." 

UW-Milwaukee's Police Chief Joseph LeMire hopes it has that same effect on students and citizens.

"I think when people know they're on camera, it changes their behavior a little bit," he said.

The cameras will also be a training tool.

"We'll have a mechanism to look at video and help officers with tactics and performance," LeMire said.

The body cameras are the same ones used by Milwaukee and Shorewood police and will make it easier to share info and video. 

LeMire said the majority of emergency calls on campus fall into a few main categories: "theft, drug and alcohol crimes, sexual assault and physical assaults."

The police chief did not reveal the exact price of the cameras, only saying transparency is worth it.

There are currently six UW-Milwaukee police officers who have been wearing the body cameras for a trial run. Next week the entire department will be trained on how to use them. 

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