Wichita police on pace for body cameras by year’s end

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita Police Department is on pace to have all of its officers equipped with body cameras by the end of the year, fulfilling a promise made last year in the aftermath of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer.

The first 106 cameras have been ordered for Patrol North and officers will begin training on them next month, interim Police Chief Nelson Mosley said this week.

“Our progress is on track and we will meet our goal of full implementation by the end of this year,” he said.

Mosley said policy governing use of the cameras and videos is still being fine-turned, The Wichita Eagle reported.

The department already has more than 60 body cameras and is ordering 429 more for use by officers around the city.

The cost of equipping all of the officers is estimated at more than $2 million. On Monday, the Department of Justice awarded the department a $250,000 grant to buy cameras.

Police officials previously have said money to buy and maintain the cameras will come in part from towing and narcotics seizure funds.

Because of the body camera effort, seven staffing positions are being created to handle camera-related tasks such as cataloging video, Kansas Open Records requests and citizen complaints, police said.

Officials also are trying to sort out details such as how long video needs to be stored, Mosley said.

“In the end, we want to make sure it’s long enough” to allow for appeals of court cases, he said.

At a public hearing last year in response to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, police officials promised to have body cameras on all officers by the end of 2015.

The cameras won’t provide every answer in a given incident, officials cautioned, and depending on where officers are during an incident, some views might not be possible.

Even when the video is clear, there still could be disagreement on what happened.

“There may still be a challenge on what’s seen,” Mosley said, “but at least there’s documentation of an incident.”

 

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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