Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley city council approves body cam purchase

Spokane Police Officer Ryan Snider holds a body camera in 2016 used by the Spokane Police Department. The Spokane Valley city council unanimously voted Tuesday to buy body cameras for city police officers.  (DAN PELLE/The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Valley City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to get body cameras for its police officers.

“This is a tool that we think will serve as good insurance for our officers,” Spokane Valley Police Chief Dave Ellis said.

Spokane Valley contracts with the county for law enforcement – its police department is part of the Sheriff’s Office.

After the county decided in March to get body cameras for Sheriff’s Office deputies, the question was whether Spokane Valley would follow suit.

The county offered Spokane Valley a 60%-40% cost share for a bundled package from Axon Enterprises Inc. that comes with new body cameras, a digital evidence management system and stun guns.

The Sheriff’s Office has wanted body cameras for years. The county historically decided against getting them due to the anticipated cost of public records requests and data storage.

But recently, the company that provides the Sheriff’s Office its digital evidence management system folded.

That left the Sheriff’s Office in need of a new system for saving crime photos, surveillance footage and other evidence. While shopping for a new digital evidence management system, the Sheriff’s Office found a bundled package that made the purchase of body cameras more palatable for the county.

Under the new agreement, Spokane Valley will pay $410,000 – 40% of the total cost – for the first year of the bundled package, then $318,000 in subsequent years. Those amounts include money for legal counsel and salaries for new public records personnel to handle requests for body camera footage.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has said outfitting deputies with body cameras is long overdue. Most Eastern Washington law enforcement agencies already have them.

The Spokane Police Department started using body cameras in 2014 as part of a police reform package spurred by the 2011 conviction of Karl Thompson, a Spokane police officer sentenced to prison for using excessive force against Otto Zehm, a Spokane resident who died in police custody in 2006.