VIDEO: Historic Triangle’s first full police force equipped with body cams

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After nearly three years of talks with the city, the Williamsburg Police Department is the first police force in the Historic Triangle to implement body cameras on every officer.

Maj. Greg Riley of the Williamsburg Police Department called the use of body cameras in routine police work the next iteration of smart policing.

“When I was rookie, 27 years ago, the issued equipment was a radio, a firearm, and a straight baton,” Riley said.

Riley said he’s been happy with the progress police forces have made toward using innovative intervention equipment, such as pepper spray, tasers, and body cameras.

Lt. Ed Schneider, a nearly 30-year veteran of police work, said he loves his new body camera.

“It shows my point of view when I see something,” Schneider said. “It takes out some of the questions I’ve had to answer in the past.”

Schneider said body cameras provide a more detailed account of an officer’s actions.

When former Police Chief David Sloggie presented City Council with the request to purchase body cameras for the force, he said the devices gave undeniable and objective point of view evidence.

“Recordings from body-worn cameras can provide officers with an invaluable tool to be used in criminal prosecution,” Sloggie said. “Traditionally they’ve protected officers and citizens from false accusations with the objective documentation of interactions between police officers and our citizens.”

While neither police departments in James City and York counties have a force-wide mandate on body cameras, both have been issuing body cameras to their officers for years.

The James City County Police Department currently has 63 body cameras, which are mostly used by patrol officers, according to department spokeswoman Stephanie Williams. The department has been issuing body cameras since 2015.

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office has 59 patrol deputies, all of whom are issued body cameras. According to department spokesman Lt. Dennis Ivey, body cameras were first issued to officers and deputies in 2014.

“We were way ahead most of the other departments,” Ivey said.

Find WYDaily past coverage of body cameras here:

Note: This article has been updated with data on the number of body cameras issued to surrounding police departments.