Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

BODYCAMS ISSUED FOR SDRC STAFF Recording on the Job; Cameras to Protect Both Staff and Downs Residents

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

BODYCAMS ISSUED FOR SDRC STAFF Recording on the Job; Cameras to Protect Both Staff and Downs Residents

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonno Colfs

BODY cameras have been spruiked as a potential lifesaver and important tool in dispute mediation, but news Southern Downs council officers have begun wearing the recording devices has raised the ire of some ratepayers.

In the past weeks, Southern Downs local law and compliance officers began wearing the cameras as they investigate complaints and carry out inspections across the region.

The Axon body cameras were trialled by the council in a bid to improve workplace health and safety, but until now the technology hadn't been widely used.

Ratepayers took to the Daily News Facebook page, with the overwhelming majority against the idea and of their rates being used to pay for the devices.

One reader, Paul Bateman, asked how a camera would stop someone getting bashed.

Another, Gail McLatchie Bradley, called the decision "ridiculous" and "another waste of ratepayers' money".

Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said the technology was vital to protect both council staff and Downs residents.

"People may think this is about policing but it's not that at all," she said.

"This is a very positive step for council and for the wider community.

"Many of our outdoor staff, particularly our local laws and compliance officers, travel to quiet, remote locations, often on their own and it's important their safety is looked after.

"The world is changing and some of these visits do have the potential to become confrontational and we have had occasions where staff have been threatened and abused -- so this technology will provide both audio and video recordings to provide a record of these visits."

At the time of print, the council was unable to answer any questions about specific incidents where staff were abused or threatened.

The council currently has 20 of the cameras at its disposa, which each cost about $15 a month.

Cr Dobie said the technology would help in situations where complaints against council staff or residents were made. …

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