Body cameras could help keep criminals off streets

Body cameras could help keep criminals off streets

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County Solicitor's office says the new video evidence made available by local agencies using body cameras could help prosecutors in court.

Though expensive, at about $1,000 each, some police departments feel the body cameras are a win-win investment.

The Surfside Beach and City of Myrtle Beach police departments have ordered body cameras for every officer.

The MBPD has 221 officers.

North Myrtle Beach is currently testing out eight body cameras before deciding whether to purchase one for every officer.

Atlantic Beach Police Chief Tim Taylor is also looking into body cameras. He says right now he is testing one out and looking to get one that would resemble an ink pen.

Lastly, the Horry County Police Department is looking into purchasing body cameras as well.

Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said he feels body cameras will only help support police reports.

"When the body camera is on and the police officer has written, I did A, B, and C; and then, you look back at the body camera and he has done A, B, and C -- That's got to give even more credibility," Richardson noted.

Richardson says when it comes to the courtroom, it will only help.

"A picture's worth a thousand words, so a video is even more than that," he added.

Richardson says this footage will be especially helpful when investigating officer-involved situations.

He began to reflect on the 2014 retrial of Luzenski Cottrell vs. the State, and fallen Myrtle Beach Police Officer Joe McGarry.

"I think it would have backed up everything Joe said," Richardson said. "You could have heard his voice, you could have heard how he said, what he said, and you could have actually seen when he engaged and sometimes, that's critical," he added.

Richardson believes having video will help expose the truth and less time will be spent arguing back and forth.

"I think it's a game changer. I think it will certainly help the State; I think it will certainly help, the police officers, and I think on those few occasions, the police officer's done something wrong, the truth is the truth." Richardson explained.

Richardson pointed out that even though having video evidence will help, it will be a "press play and convict" situation.

"The video is not going to be the cake, it's going to be the icing on the cake," Richardson added.

Richardson says prosecutors will still have to build cases from the ground up and will most likely have to go through a lot more video but it will all be worth it.

"I think the truth is on our side, and as long as the truth is on your side, video it," Richardson concluded.

Richardson believes the video will help the jury the most because now they'll be able to see what actually happened firsthand.

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