Body cameras are coming to a police station near you — to Seattle’s East Precinct, specifically, at E Pine and 12th.
The city hopes to have as many as 12 of these officers wearing body cams by mid-December, according to City Council member Bruce Harrell’s office. The only thing standing in the way of the one-year pilot project is ironing out policy details. “Everything else is ready to go,” said a Harrell aide tells CHS via email.
The body cam pilot will test two camera systems, TASER and VieVu.
“Testing these two will allow us to assess how we can transfer and access the video if we store it in a (a) cloud-based solution (TASER/Evidence.com) and how we can handle the video if we (b) do this in-house similar to in-car video system (VieVu),” said the aide. After the one-year pilot, the city will assess and work to expand the program. “Once the assessment report is completed around September 2015,” Harrell’s rep wrote, “we will work with SPD and the Executive on a potential budget proposal for 2016.”
Only a couple of weeks ago, the program was in peril as SPD struggled to comply with a slew of video-related public records requests without violating any privacy laws, reports the Seattle Times. But after the anonymous requester cut a deal with SPD in which he’ll help them figure out how to efficiently redact footage, the program is now back on track.
President Obama recently announced he’s asking Congress for $75 million to fund as many as 50,000 police body cams across the country, as part of a larger “three-year, $263 million spending package to increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement and add more resources for police department reform,” reports the AP.
The move is partly a reaction to the wave of anger over police brutality that has washed across the country (and Capitol Hill) in the past week, ever since officials announced that Darren Wilson, the white Missouri police officer who shot to death unarmed black teen Michael Brown in August, will not face trial.
Many Seattle protesters have called for body cams on officers; proponents say the cameras would protect both citizens from mistreatment and cops from false accusation.
A protest is planned Wednesday afternoon at City Hall as the council’s public safety committee meets to vote on applying for the federal funding:
MIKE BROWNS FAMILY wanted all police officers nationwide to wear body cameras called Mike Brown LAW..With body cams evidence will not be in dispute or tampered with We also need to demand that injustice, racism,oppression,police brutality is not ok and end it once and for all.
Part of that $75 million of federal funds could well be spent in Seattle. In a statement responding to Obama’s announcement, Harrell, a longtime advocate of body cams, called for the city to apply for the money:
I have long advocated for body cameras, a progressive game-changing effort to improve public safety, police accountability, and transparency. Body cameras provide impartial evidence and build trust with the community. The public deserves to have clear video evidence of police and civilian interactions, so we can more accurately examine incidents of police misconduct and produce video and audio evidence when shootings occur. One solution to allow us to better understand what happened at Ferguson is to deploy body cameras on all police officers.