DeKalb County to purchase hundreds of police body cameras

Mark Niesse contributed to this story.

DeKalb County commisioners recently approved the purchase of hundreds of body cameras for its police department.

Officials hope the body cameras will help usher in a new era of transparency and clarity.

"It does add an additional piece of evidence, if you will, that we can refer to that helps put together a puzzle,"  DeKalb Public Safety Director Cedric Alexander told Channel 2 Action News.

Fifteen deaths resulted from DeKalb police use of force since 2010, according to the Justice Department's review of the county's grant application.

In January, a DeKalb County police officer was indicted for murder in the March 2015 fatal shooting of an unarmed and naked civilian. Officer Robert Olsen was not wearing a body camera.

The Board of Commissioners approved the purchase request of nearly $740,000 on a meeting in June. DeKalb had sought nearly $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice to help purchase the body cameras but wasn't one of the governments to win a grant award.

The camera features include GPS tracking and are programmed to start filming whenever an officer runs, is in a struggle or get close to someone.

Video unrelated to a crime will be stored for six months, according to the county. Video capturing a crime will be stored until the criminal case is closed.

"We feel good about the technology we are acquiring," Alexander said. "We're looking forward to it."

Most officers in major cities apparently still don't have body cameras. Money and technology are the biggest challenges facing most police departments.