Colorado animal inspectors now wearing body cameras

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DENVER — If your local police department doesn’t already have body cameras, chances are they are coming soon.

However, police aren’t the only public workers wearing them.

Animal inspectors with the Colorado Department of Agriculture started using the technology in May after seeing the benefits during a pilot program that began in January.

The cameras are used to record evidence during investigations, and to protect inspectors if confronted by angry members of the public.

“It’s a pretty emotional business. People’s pets are like their kids and so the inspection may fail and they’re not happy about it,” said Becky Robison, an inspector with the Department of Agriculture.

“There’s situations out there where you’re glad you have your camera on and it’s recording both to protect yourself and the facility you’re inspecting.”

Robison is one of six inspectors now wearing body cameras.

The cameras have already been used in hundreds of inspections and have recorded dozens of violations.

Inspectors said they have eliminated disputes about whether inspectors gave correct information to facilities in violation of state regulations.

“That’s one of the reasons we went to this. It be came a he said, she said and it’s worked to our benefit to where I can go back and look at the video and say, the inspector did tell you,” said Nick Fisher, the program administrator with the Department of Agriculture.

However, some Denver-area doggy day care facilities say they also appreciate the cameras.

“If there was something that came back on the report we’ve questioned, then we’ve got the video footage there,” said Lyndean Gilligan with Camp Bow Wow.

The cameras each cost $340. The funding for them is built into the state budget.

“Just the fact we have the video may get them to settle or plea bargain without going to trial,” Fisher said.

State inspectors try and visit all of Colorado’s 1,900 facilities at least once a year. If violations are found, those facilities have 20 days to submit a corrective action plan. The video is recycled every 90 days unless part of a legal dispute.

The city of Aurora is also beginning a new pilot project this month to equip its code enforcement and animal protection officers with body cameras.

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