Madison's new police chief backs body cameras on officers

"I believe that progressive, 21st century police departments should have body-worn cameras," Chief Shon Barnes tells our podcasters just a few weeks into his new job as Madison's top cop. Madison is one of the few cities of its size without cameras on patrol officers and one of only a third of police agencies in Wisconsin that haven't embraced the technology. Uniform cameras provide transparency and accountability following controversial police encounters, which helps builds public trust. Yet Barnes stresses that whether to equip his officers with the devices is the community's decision, not his. "It's important to note that body-worn cameras have evolved tremendously from cameras that automatically turn on when your blue lights turn on, automatically turn on when your gun is unholstered, and there are cameras now that are attached to a fit bit," he says. "So you wear the fit bit so that the program knows what your resting and normal heart rate is, and if your heart rate is elevated, it turns your body-worn camera on." Milfred and Hands praise Barnes for his emphasis on technology, including better use of data. Barnes also talks about waiters and waitresses making good police recruits, and his desire to expand recruitment efforts into churches and other places to help diversify the force.

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