The Mexico Beach Police Department has recently implemented some high-tech tools to help them serve and protect.



The Mexico Beach Police Department has recently implemented some high-tech tools to help them serve and protect.

The department has added new dash and body cameras, which were installed in mid-April.

“It’s a pretty good system,” said Capt. Steve Willis. “It has really good resolution and things are working well with it so far.”

The system is produced by a company named Digital-Ally, and offers high definition video recording capabilities.

Mexico Beach’s police department had worked with another system in the past, but that system proved cumbersome and complicated.

Willis has been pleased with the new system, especially its ease of use.

“It is a very, very easy system to use,” Willis said.

Along with giving officers a visual record of calls, Willis believes that body cams will simplify the policing process.

“It’s a system of checks and balances,” Willis said.

According to Willis, if a citizen complains about a traffic stop or some other police instance, leadership will be able to look at the video and determine if actions taken by a police officer were correct.

While the system is quite new, the police have already been able to use evidence gathered from the video recording to assist with cases.

“It provides a chain of evidence for whenever court cases come up,” Willis said. “It is hard to beat video when it comes to saying who did what and when it happened.”

Cameras have helped the department with a few cases already, especially those involving alcohol.

While arresting officers have a dash cam video of a DUI offender, they can now also have an up close video from their body camera.

“It provides a good picture of the actions of the violator,” said Willis.

The video recording capability gives officers a way to go back through the recording and solidify their evidence collecting.

“You get going on an emergency call and your mind is going 100 miles a minute,” Willis said. “The camera is a video record of everything that happens. An officer can go back later on and start making evidentiary notes.”

The new dash cams are activated in three different ways.

First through a manual switch, second is if the police cruiser reaches speeds of over 60 mph, and third is if the cruiser’s lights are activated.

The body cameras are automatically activated when a cruisers dash camera is activated, or when an officer manually activates it away from his cruiser.

“We have a pretty good policy set in place when it comes to when to use the body cameras and when not to use the body cameras,” Willis said.

According to Willis, in non-emergency situations police will notify a homeowner if a camera is on.

The cameras have already proven to change the attitude of someone being questioned by an officer.

“It is very difficult to notice, but when we tell them that everything is being recorded, people tend to not want to act up,” Willis said. “They realize ‘I probably need to behave myself a little more.’”

The police department has also added a fleet of bicycles to their inventory.

The bikes came from a private donation, and the department is in the final steps in getting them into use.

Initial surveys have also been completed into finding appropriate emergency medical helicopter landing zones within the city.