UNL Police outfit every officer with body cameras

By: Bill Schammert

UNL police officers have worn body cameras before, but now, they’re taking it to a whole new level. All 28 officers, all the time.

“Many times an officer is the closest person to an incident,” Sgt. John Backer said. “So what better way to accurately capture what’s happening than from that perspective, right there.”

Officers have been using the cameras in some capacity or another since 2009. With the help of a grant and department money, over the last couple weeks they’ve outfitted every officer with a camera. 

“As technology improves, the devices are getting smaller, they have better quality and they’re more rugged,” Sgt. Backer said. “It makes it possible for them to stand up in the environments in which officers work.”

UNL students we spoke with don’t seem to mind the tool.

“It’s also good for us citizens,” student Kaitlyn Kubicki said. “Since police are wearing a camera, they can’t do anything to violate their own code of conduct because they know they’re being recorded.”

The lightweight cameras worn on the chest area of an officers uniform don’t have to be on all the time, but can start recording simply by opening the lens.

“I have a cell phone camera right now,” student Alex McGill said. “I could pull it out and take video of anything. I think it’s just a sign of the times.”

UNL police try to make the technology as transparent as possible by monitoring and logging any officer who watches the uploaded video.

Despite the financial cost of more cameras, Sgt. Backer says it’s worth every penny.

“I just think it’s fair to the public to provide an accurate depiction of any event.”