Body Cam Controversy Leaves Some Feeling Threatened in Madrid

MADRID, Iowa -- The Madrid Police Department recently settled its second police brutality lawsuit in just over a year and now it's facing yet another controversy.

Two officers, one of them the Police Chief Rick Tasler, are accused of using body cameras to secretly record Boone County leaders.

Former Madrid city councilmen Eric Ohrt and Dave Cook were some of the leaders whose conversations with officers were secretly recorded. They originally declined to speak with Channel 13 due to a fear of retaliation but now say they hope coming forward will lead to change.

“I was afraid of retaliation by individuals in the community and our police department. Our chief of police put a Facebook post on there that I was spreading lies and that my actions could not go unpunished,” said Ohrt.

The body cameras are meant to record things like emergencies, traffic stops, and arrests. However, the recordings don't violate Madrid`s body camera policy -- because the city doesn`t have a policy.

The attorney who represented the plaintiffs in two previous police brutality lawsuits against Madrid police says that if this does go to court the insurance company will do what the city council would not.

“Their insurance company has written two checks...there may be more checks they have to write in the future... and the insurance company at that point as all insurance companies can do, can wash their hands of this. The citizens will have no choice and the department will be shut down,” said attorney Glenn Downey.

Downey says at least two more lawsuits are about to be filed against the city.

The mayor announced Monday that a body camera policy that mirrors other Boone County law enforcement agencies will be drafted.

The Boone County Attorney also issued a statement that said in part, "My office does not condone peace officers running their body cameras in the county attorney's office because of the confidential nature of cases and materials that we work with on a daily basis. To do so would jeopardize those cases."