Council Wants Cop Cameras Tested By Next Summer, In Use By 2013

The city council has set a deadline of sorts for outfitting Seattle police officers with wearable video cameras

A statement of legislative intent—a non-binding declaration of the council’s future policy goals—released this week makes it clear the council wants cop cameras ready to go by 2013.

The small, wearable cameras, a reform being pushed by Council Member Bruce Harrell as a police accountability tool, could both provide greater oversight for officers when they’re away from their camera-equipped patrol cars, and could also exonerate officers in misconduct cases.

Seattle Police Officers Guild President Rich O’Neill has previously told PubliCola “there are a lot of hurdles [the guild would] need to iron out” before officers could be outfitted with the cameras. The city is currently in arbitration with the guild over SPD’s contract.

The council’s statement says testing of the cameras should get underway next year—first with a 90 day trial by SPD’s traffic unit, and another by patrol officers at the West Precinct—and that the mayor should be ready to work the cameras into the city’s budget.

The council has requested a report from McGinn’s office on the cameras—addressing how the cameras compare to the department’s current in-car camera system, how SPD would be able to use and retain the large and unwieldy amount of data generated by the cameras, and whether they’re worth the $900-per-unit price tag—by the end of July 2012.