JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Jefferson City hopes to join the list of Mid-Missouri police departments using body-worn cameras.
However, a city councilman says funding will not be available until 2022.
Jefferson City's Public Safety Committee met Tuesday to talk about progress toward equipping officers with the cameras and new radios. Fourth Ward Councilman Carlos Graham said the money isn't in the budget to equip officers with cameras now.
Many other police departments in Mid-Missouri use body cameras, including the Randolph County Sheriff's Office, Columbia Police Department, Cole County Sheriff's Office, Lincoln University Police Department, Boone County Sheriff's Department and Ashland Police Department. Some of these departments have been using body cams since 2015.
JCPD Capt. Eric Wilde said the department is committed to getting the cameras and is still working to determine the cost of the equipment.
Graham asked Rusty Hart to attend the meeting. Hart was charged with resisting arrest but the charges were dropped after a bystander's video contradicted police claims.
Hart said, "It was about resisting arrest and it was over a simple traffic infraction, believe it or not roller blading. It was over a simple traffic infraction and it turned into a resisting arrest and got hauled to jail. Luckily, I had a really good lawyer stand behind me and that gentleman who stopped and video'd my arrest. I was able to hand that over to my lawyer and show that to the prosecuting attorney. Now my court thing isn't done it's in the works and I'm hoping that there's a good outcome of this. Simply because I can provide proof of what's there in the report is what's different from the video."
Hart said he was lucky that someone filmed his arrest otherwise he would still be facing charges. Hart explained, "Luckily I had a bystander video the occurrence the interaction with JCPD and for that gentlemen to come forward with that video exonerated me from that was actually in the report. Im very luckily not many people get that opportunity especially when JCPD does not own body cameras."
Since then Hart has worked with community organizations and started a petition for police to get body cams. The petition has more than 200 signatures. "I just wanted to do something for the community because I think in this time and day, the year 2020 we really need body cameras and for something like that to happen to me I don't want anything like that to happen to anyone else, and that's the main reason why I started this petition.", Hart said.
Hart told me he is working with city council members on getting this petition passed. Hart said, "I talked to the council members they went ahead and gave me the green light to gather these signatures and I've got 207 signatures, every single signature had a story with it and for that, it shouldn't happen."
Hart like other members in the community strongly believe that the JCPD needs body cams. Hart said, "It would help bring back the trust in the community with police officers and the civilians. I think nowadays with body cameras it should be the same thing as wearing your bullet proof vest. It should be mandatory. It helps not only us but them too, to make sure they get their reporting correctly, and that they can look back at everything and make sure everything is correct in their reporting."
Hart doesn't understand why many other departments near by have been using body cams for years, but JCPD does not. "Right across the street Cole County, they have body cameras. Lincoln University they have body cameras. Why isn't the capitol of Missouri JCPD not wearing body cameras in the year 2020.", Hart explained.
Check back for more on this developing story and watch ABC 17 News at 6 and 6:30.