Bowling Green Police Department

Lisa Autry

The Bowling Green Police Department is preparing to outfit its officers with body cameras. 

In a presentation to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club Wednesday, Chief Doug Hawkins said agencies that already use body cameras have seen a reduction in complaints against officers.

"If you know everything we're doing is being recorded, you tend to behave a little better and so does the police officer.  Not that we have a lot of complaints, but we think this will mitigate complaints," Hawkins told the audience. "When a citizen has a justifiable complaint, we're going to capture that, as well."

Hawkins said the department is investing in body cameras now because prices have dropped and the technology has improved. 

Bowling Green Police plan to purchase 95 body cameras at a cost of nearly $160,000. 

The cameras will be deployed by the end of the year.

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The Bowling Green City Commission will vote Tuesday on the hiring of ten police officers.  This will be the first round of hiring since the federal government launched an investigation into the hiring practices of the city police department.

Among the new hires are four African-Americans and one Hispanic.  The city has been working to recruit and hire more minorities since a Department of Justice investigation last summer found the city should have more black officers based on its population. 

While some changes have been made to recruit more minority candidates, Human Resources Director Mike Grubbs says the city is still hiring the overall best candidates.

"The police department looks at character for hiring.   They can train someone to be a police officer," Grubbs told WKU Public Radio.  "Candidates have to meet certain minimum requirements, which all of our candidates did, but they have to have good character and good background, and the department has not wavered on that."

The U.S. Department of Justice says it is investigating hiring practices at the Bowling Green Police Department.

The Daily News reports the Justice Department has sent a letter to Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson saying it is looking into whether the city "is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against African-Americans with respect to employment opportunities."

The letter says the city should have more black officers based on its population. Out of 113 sworn police personnel, six, or 5.3 percent, are black. The 2010 U.S. Census showed the city is made up 13.9 percent black residents.

Wilkerson says the department has used a pre-employment exam from McCann Associates since at least the 1970s. He says the city "clearly thought we had a colorblind hiring process at the police department."

Law enforcement groups across the commonwealth are urging residents to do away with their unused and expired prescription medications.

Kentucky now has nearly 150 permanent prescription drug disposal locations throughout the state, housed at police and sheriff's departments. The program is aimed at getting old prescription drugs out of medicine cabinets, where they can be stolen or discovered by children.

The BowlingGreen Police Department is clearing violent crime and property cases at a rate that far surpasses the national average.

The Bowling Green Daily News reports the department had a 77.51% clearance rate in 2012 on violent crimes and a 23.13% clearance rate on property crimes. BGPD's clearance rates are higher than the latest national averages compiled by the FBI which shows a 47.7% clearance rate on violent crimes and a 18.6% rate on property crimes for 2011. The FBI won't have national clearance rates available for 2012 until this fall.

The Bowling Green Police have arrested 31 year old Carlos Garcia-Hernandez in connection with the August 3rd, 2012 robbery of the BB&T Bank branch on Nashville Road. Authorities say several Crime Stoppers tips assisted detectives in the capture of the suspect. The robbery took place shortly after 11:00 am on August 3rd.

UPDATED: 10:15 a.m.

Bowling Green police spokesman Ronnie Ward tells WKU Public Radio the victim was shot but police are not saying that was necessarily the cause of death. An autopsy will be performed on the body in Louisville.