Detroit to equip police officers, squad cars with cameras

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 18, 2015 11:54 AM

By Serena Maria Daniels

DETROIT (Reuters) - All Detroit police-marked squad cars will have dashboard cameras within a year and all officers will be equipped with body cameras within three years under a program intended to protect both citizens and officers, city officials said on Tuesday.

Several U.S. states and cities have approved or expanded the use of body and dashboard cameras in the past year since a white officer fatally shot an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri, increasing public pressure to monitor police use of force.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the city's goal is to build a police department where every officer-citizen interaction is recorded.

"We believe that's the best way to hold people accountable if they do something wrong and the best way to quickly exonerate people who are falsely accused," Duggan told a news conference.

Duggan had pledged earlier in 2015 that Detroit would be a leader in requiring officers to wear body cameras.

Detroit's fleet of more than 400 marked squad cars will have operating dash cams within a year, Duggan said, and officers will begin testing a system that integrates body and dashboard cameras this fall, with deployment starting in early 2016.

Only 186 of the department's marked cars now have fully functioning dashboard cameras, officials said.

The city has already budgeted the $350,000 needed to set up the dashboard camera system, Duggan said. The body camera system is expected to cost $3 million over three years, funded through federal grants and the police capital budget, he said.

Twenty Detroit officers tested different types of camera and various arrangements in a three-month pilot program this year.

Video recordings by bystanders and dashboard and body cameras have played an increasing role in documenting violent encounters between police and U.S. citizens in the past year.

In one of the latest deadly interactions between law enforcement and minority residents, a University of Cincinnati police officer was charged in July with murder and voluntary manslaughter in part after a body camera recording raised questions about his fatal shooting of a black motorist.

(Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Lisa Lambert and Eric Walsh)