What body cameras can and can’t do for public transparency

 In News Story

By: Jessica Gill, WOWT Channel 6

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) — Omaha Police released snapshots Tuesday taken from the body camera worn by the officer who shot an armed robbery suspect. Chief Schmaderer authorized that photos from the officer’s body camera be released to the public in order to provide transparency.

Schmaderer said “The evidence reviewed at this point in time by the Douglas County Attorney’s Office and the OPD Senior Command (body camera video and witnesses statements) shows the officer was reasonable in his belief that he was responding to deadly force. The officer’s decision to fire his duty weapon is justified.”

The images show Dillon R. Trejo pulled up his shirt, reached into his waist band and raised his hand arm toward OPD Officer Brooks Riley, as if he had a weapon in his hand. Riley discharged his handgun at Trejo hitting him at least one time.

88 Tactical’s Trevor Thrasher, who has 25 years’ experience as a police officer told WOWT 6 News all officers should have body cameras but, he doesn’t think they offer complete transparency.

“It kind of creates the “Hollywood Effect” because people see this, it’s clear, it’s almost like a Hollywood film, and they believe that things in the real world, occur like they do in a Hollywood film,’ said Thrasher.

Thrasher said he knows the power and benefits of body cameras because he’s also in the military where helmet cams are used. He’s an advocate that every officer have a camera. He said he uses the term “Hollywood effect “ to describe the things the public can’t experience by viewing body camera footage. He said there’s no way for them to experience every detail that officers on scene pick up – details they’re trained to observe.

“And they’ll hold officers to a standard that really isn’t human, sometimes,” Thrasher said.

He believes the solution is more awareness on how officers should and shouldn’t reacted in a sticky situation.

“I think so far, most departments actually do a really bad job of that, to be honest. Some are more progressive than others. I would like to see local departments be more progressive in education the public on what actually constitutes reasonable force,” Thrasher said.

So that when body camera images are released there’s a common understanding of what it is they’re actually seeing.

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