The Spokane City Council voted unanimously Monday to purchase body cameras for police officers, joining other cities in adopting technology that has so far proved to lessen complaints against officer conduct as well as use of force by police.
Council President Ben Stuckart was vocally supportive of the body cameras, saying they had support in all corners of government and “were unanimously endorsed by the Use of Force Commission, unanimously endorsed by the City Council last year, unanimously by the city administration and I think they’re a huge step forward.”
The $730,000 used to purchase the cameras comes from the $1.1 million the City Council took from city reserves in April to help implement the Use of Force Commission’s recommendation to equip officers with the technology.
The price tag purchases 220 cameras. It also buys the same number of a new model of Taser for officers, which will become the standard model used by Spokane police, and three years of services at evidence.com, an encrypted evidence data management site.
Taser International produces the cameras, marketing them as a way to achieve “dramatic decreases in complaints” against a department. A New York Times article from August reported the Rialto (Calif.) Police Department saw an 88 percent decrease in complaints filed against officers in the first year of using body cameras. Use of force used by officers fell by 60 percent in the same time period.
The Taser, an X26P, is called a “smart weapon” due to its ability to record “trigger events,” including time and duration of discharge as well as electric output from the weapon.
At this month’s public safety meeting, Carly Cotright, the police department’s business services director, said purchasing the cameras and weapons together, both of which are produced by Taser International, would save the department $488,000.
The Airway Heights Police Department was the first local law enforcement agency to use body cameras, almost four years ago. The Coeur d’Alene Police Department began using body cameras last year, and some officers on Liberty Lake’s force wear the cameras voluntarily.