EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WLAX) — Eau Claire police officers and Eau Claire County sheriff’s deputies will soon add body cameras to their uniforms.
“It’s an exciting day for our community,” Eau Claire Police Chief Matt Rokus said. “This is a technology that benefits all. The documentation that our camera systems, whether it be body cameras, in-squad video, it provides a factual account of the event that supports a community member’s account of what happened and also our officers.”
The cameras were made possible through a $949,000 donation from local organization, PESI, Inc.
After seeing the tense relationships between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect, PESI Deputy Director Michael Olson said his organization decided cameras would be a good community investment to help build more trust in Eau Claire.
“When communities around the country were in turmoil over policing, we recognized an opportunity to step in locally and play a role and help our local sheriff and police department,” Olson said. “It seemed like a great opportunity for the community as well as the police department. There’s transparency, accountability, safety and efficiency that are brought by using this technology.”
Rokus agreed with Olson
“In order for us to do our work, we need to be considered trustworthy by our community,” he said. “The community needs to perceive our actions as legitimate. This supports that.”
The body cameras will be installed by the end of January, according to Rokus. He said PESI’s donation will cover the costs of the cameras and data storage system for five years. The donation will also allow the two departments to replace dash cams and interview room cameras.
Rokus said all footage collected by all cameras will be stored in a shared database accessibly by both the ECPD and the sheriff’s office.