‘There’s always three sides of the story’: Marion police push for transparency with new body cams

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:45 AM EST
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MARION, S.C. (WMBF) - Police in Marion are looking to bridge the gap between its officers and those who call the community home.

The Marion Police Department could soon be getting 19 new body cameras, and both residents and officers said it’s coming with transparency and accountability.

In Marion, everyone seems to know everyone. That includes Tristan Perkins, a regular customer at Fred’s Barbershop.

On Tuesday, Perkins and his barber, who’s also Marion City Councilman Frederick Gause, weren’t just talking about haircuts.

“It’s bad, ain’t nothing but crime around here,” said Perkins.

Their conversation surrounded the possible new body-worn cameras for the Marion Police Department.

“You know, I want them to be able to see everything and get both sides of the story really,” said Perkins.

Marion police officer Harold Ford said there’s actually one more side, and the body cam he puts on every day is essential.

“There’s always three sides of the story,” Ford said. “You know if it’s me and you, we’ll have our own perceptions, but with that camera, it’ll put it out the correct way.”

Chief Tony Flowers said the department has used the cameras going on six years, but the cameras are getting older.

Flowers said he wants to spend a $26,000 grant on new ones.

“It’s a big deal for us even though we already have body cameras, we’re required by law to have them,” said Flowers. “Even if we weren’t required, I still think it is a good tool to have to provide transparency.”

Flowers said the cameras will also sync with cameras inside officers’ vehicles, cutting down on storage space and offering better convenience.

Barber and Gause said it’s also a win for Marion residents.

“Citizens have the right to hold people that are there to protect and serve accountable,” said Gause. “I think that we deserve that, and we owe it to them to give them the tools that they need to do their job.”

Perkins agreed.

“Stop all the violence with each other and come together as one, then maybe we can make a change and make everything better,” Perkins said.

During Tuesday’s Marion City Council meeting, councilmembers voted and accepted the bid approval for the new body-worn cameras.