Rock Island police officers are getting body cameras

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Rock Island police officers will soon join the growing trend across the country in wearing body cameras.

Officer Craig Smith will tell you crime never sleeps.

"We see a lot of domestics, thefts, burglaries, we do a lot of traffic stops," said Smith.

He's been patrolling the streets of Rock Island by himself for eight years. However, he says a piece of equipment he can use at traffic stops could be the backup partner he doesn't have.

"There've been several times where I can't explain exactly what I saw but the camera would show it, you know bright as day," said Smith.

Right now there's only a camera inside his vehicle, but he says it's not enough, which is why the police department has been pushing for body cameras.

"This will show my interaction from one angle, having the body cameras on a person will actually give my view of what`s happening, what I see inside the vehicle," said Smith.

On December 19th, 2016, Rock Island city council agreed to buy 61 body cameras, enough for all their officers.

Related: Burlington PD wants to put automatic plate readers on squad cars to help prevent crime

It's a move Police Chief Jeff VenHuizen says is necessary these days, "I think the future of policing is eventually going to lead to every agencies have body worn cameras."

Rock Island is the first city in the Illinois Quad Cities to get them. It's a pricey investment, $165,000 a year of a five-year contract.

"Right now of course the hindrance the significant cost associated with it and the ongoing maintenance and upkeep with the systems and it's an investment in personnel as well," said chief VenHuizen.

An investment at least one officer says is worth it.

"Everybody`s got a camera ready to you know, flash in your face and they can edit those videos however they want. This way we`ve got documentation of our own and we can show the whole interaction," said Smith.

City council not only approved the cameras, but will also make sure each of its officers carry tasers. Plus the city is buying 25 helmets and cameras for the department's tactical team.

Chief VenHuizen says his officers could be using them by spring 2017.