Patrol officers in Wausau are now equipped with body cameras to capture footage of arrests and other interaction with the public.
"All of our patrol officers, our school resource officers, and our community resource officers will be wearing body cameras from here forward," Capt. Ben Bliven says.
The cameras, about the size of a box of cigarettes, are clipped to officers' shirts and are programmed to turn on automatically whenever an officer operates the lights or sirens of a police vehicle.
Wausau leaders in November approved spending $300,000 over five years on the cameras as a way to promote trust and transparency with the public. The department now owns 45 body cameras and will store the captured video on a cloud-based server.
The city is part of a growing list of communities throughout the state to use the cameras in an effort to build better relationships between citizens and the police. Others include La Crosse, Oshkosh, Janesville and Milwaukee. Green Bay is in the process of purchasing cameras for officers, and police in Superior will begin wearing the devices next month.
The cameras protect the public by ensuring officers are following rules and regulations, officials say, and can also protect officers from false accusations of police brutality.