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Russellville Police Chief Says Body Cameras Reduce Complaints

John Null, WKMS

As the Bowling Green Police Department prepares to equip its officers with body cameras, the police chief of a neighboring community is praising the technology. The Russellville Police Department began using body cameras in 2013.  Police Chief Victor Shifflett said the cameras have made officers more accountable, while also changing the public’s behavior toward the police.

“We actually arrested and charged a couple of people for false statements that they’ve made against police officers, and since we’ve done that, that’s when the complaints have really dropped off. They’ve made just blatantly false accusations about the officer, and then when we play the video, it’s just completely opposite,” Shifflett said.

The police chief said there have been fewer complaints against Russellville police officers since they began using the body cameras.  He said the technology has prevented possible lawsuits against the Russellville Police Department. In one case, a woman under arrest claimed an officer inappropriately touched her while conducting a search. Shifflett says the video proved otherwise.

“Had that not had that camera view that the body-worn camera provided, it would have been a little bit more difficult to have defended the officer. It would have been his word against hers,” Shifflet said. 

The footage is public record and Shifflett said he’d like the state legislature to pass a measure giving the public certain protections. The Russellville police chief said while he doesn’t like government intrusion into personal privacy, he believes the body camera recordings have become necessary following several high-profile shootings across the country involving police.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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