Part One told you where different police departments in Northwest Arkansas stand with getting body cameras.
Technology has become an important law enforcement tool. When prosecutors investigate officer-involved incidents, they take everything into account. Some of the most valuable evidence is videos from police and the public.
Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett says video is a vital piece of information when investigating an officer-involved shooting.
“It’s the first thing I always look at,” Durrett said. “I guess its just kind of instinct. I just want to see what’s on the video.”
Last month in Farmington, officers and deputies responded to a man armed with two guns after setting fire to his property.
After negotiating and trying to tase the man, they shot him multiple times. The Farmington officers’ body cams were rolling.
“It’s not just my word anymore, they can actually look and see exactly what happened and it makes me feel a lot better,” Chad Parrish of the Farmington Police Department said.
Durrett says what was captured on video helped him decide the deputies’ actions were justified. But, body cameras or not, some things won’t change. In Arkansas, video evidence cannot be released to the public immediately.
“We don’t release anything until the investigation is complete,” Durrett said. “We’re prohibited actually.”
It’s why even when a civilian cell phone video is posted online, police don’t post their videos also.
Durrett says the high profile shootings nationwide will not change how he conducts investigations.
“You can’t let outside influences or something that happened somewhere else factor in, good or bad,” Durrett said.
Durrett believes there isn’t any indication, especially with the officer-involved shootings he’s investigated in the past four months, of a race and policing issue in Northwest Arkansas.
“We’ve had three of them,” Durrett said. “One involved an African American individual, two are white.”