While it’s certainly true that dash cameras play an important role in law enforcement around the country, it’s also true that not every agency can afford an arsenal of the latest that modern technology has to offer. Smaller departments often work with smaller budgets, which means that there are certain assets that they regularly have to go without.

Such was the case with the Clever Police Department recently, who wanted to start using dash cameras across their fleet in an effort to stop crime but discovered that they simply didn’t have the funds to do so. However, they quickly received assistance from the most unlikely of sources — another department in the area.

Departments That Share Dash Cams Help Us All

When Chief Darren Whisnant formally took over the position of Chief of Police in Clever, he said that he immediately wanted to bring dash cameras into the fold. He had used them in other departments throughout his career to great effect and wanted to bring those benefits to his new job, too. However, after going over the department’s current budget, buying the cameras outright was simply not an option.

Instead of just accepting that fact, he reached out to his former department — the Nixa Police Department — to see if they had any extra dash cameras laying around. Sadly, he learned that they had already given all of their extra units to a third department, that of Bolivar.

Upon further examination, however, Whisnant learned that Bolivar actually had a surplus of equipment that they were dealing with. Bolivar did need the extra units at one point but had long since purchased their own. Because they were working with all new equipment, any old units — along with the ones they received from Nixa — were basically sitting in storage, waiting to be disposed of.

At that point, Whisnant was able to secure the dash cameras for the Clever police department to use in their own patrol cars. He says that this is something that will literally revolutionize the department, even going as far as to state that “without [Nixa’s] help, we would still be in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Officers from all departments say that the dash cameras not only help protect them while they’re out on routine patrols, but they help protect citizens as well. The camera systems capture everything that an officer does. In addition to help make sure that agency officials stay honest, it also keeps the public honest as well. Joel Schulz, a patrol officer for the Clever Police Department, said that “it’s not a he-said, she-said situation anymore.” All guesswork is removed from the equation when you have a cold, hard, honest record of every activity as it played out in real-time. Schulz even gave an example: If he conducts a routine traffic stop and he doesn’t think it went well, he can go back and review the dash cam footage to see what happened and what he can learn to use to improve himself in the future.

The types of dash cameras that are regularly outfitted in patrol cars can be triggered in a wide range of different ways. These include but are not limited to when the car’s lights are switched on, when an officer presses a button on his uniform, or in similar situations.

To his credit, Chief Whisnant is very thankful for all of the other departments for their eagerness to help Clever. It’s never easy coming into a new department as the Chief of Police — often, you need all the help you can get. Whisnant says that he’s been greeted with open arms, however, not only by his fellow chiefs but by all of the hardworking men and women in departments across the area.

The Clever Police Department has been using their new dash cameras for roughly two weeks and will continue to do so in the future. Whisnant indicated that the next item on his list has to do with body cameras — something that he wants to get up and running to be used by school resource officers in particular.