TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Many questions still surround what lead to the fatal shots between an officer and a Missouri teen, and finding an answer may be difficult.
Police video of the altercation does not exist.
You may be surprised at just how many officers across the country and right here in the Wabash Valley do not have dash cams.
In the front of Lieutenant Brian Dehart’s patrol car sits a small digital camera lens that picks up video and sound.
“It doesn’t record until the emergency lights come on or until an officer activates it,” said Dehart with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office.
The dash cam is a tool that he feels lucky to have.
“It’s our word against theirs, so with a camera it documents everything. Our statements are recorded and their statements are recorded,” said Dehart.
It’s a common misconception that all officers have the cameras, in reality Dehart is one of three out of thirty deputies.
The cameras are given to the officers who work during peak volume call times.
“It’s a great deal of money and we are on limited budgets. We have to prioritize. Just recently the law changed where governments have to buy bulletproof vests for their officers,” said Sheriff Clark Cottom, with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office.
The high price tag of nearly $5,000 is also the reason Indiana State Police can only have a few, still officer’s hope for more.
“If the department had dash cams in every single car there would be less court traffic. There would be fewer complaints because in the state of Indiana if you do make a false claim and it’s unfounded that could turn into criminal for the accuser,” said Ty Lightle, Senior Trooper with Indiana State Police
It’s a tiny camera with a big payoff.
“The camera protects the citizens of Indiana also, in case an officer does do something wrong,” said Lightle.
In the wake of the shooting in Ferguson support for more dash cams continues to grow.
“A lot of times a national event can change how law enforcement does business. Look at September 11th and some of the changes that were made after that, so I could see changes coming out of the events that are occurring in Missouri,” said Cottom.