After years of debate, Vancouver police officers will be equipped with body cameras while on patrol.
The move is intended to increase transparency and credibility in Vancouver Police investigations and day-to-day enforcement. Local civil rights groups that have long sought the cameras are optimistic.
“We just started this project, so this sort of thing seems like a long way to go for us to get to just the beginning. But we got here,” said the police aide. ‘s Troy Price said Monday night.
Vancouver police officials say the body cameras will be deployed within the next three months. could not be
The move comes after the Vancouver City Council approved a $5.5 million contract with Axon Enterprises, Inc. on Monday. The Arizona-based vendor sells TASER-branded weapons, cameras, and record-keeping software.
The contract calls for over 200 body-worn cameras, over 200 new tasers, cameras for patrol car dashboards and cabins, automatic license plate readers for patrol cars, and new cameras for agency interview rooms. The deal includes a new Taser target, as well as nine of his HTC-branded virtual reality headsets, all priced at over $1,000 each on the company’s website.
The city contract also pays for software and training services from Axon. The company provides data storage for vast amounts of footage and photos recorded through body cameras and license plate readers. The deal also includes a class voucher for the use of the new Taser.
Body cameras are still marquee items. Public calls for the device date back to his 2019, when Vancouver police shot people four times in his five weeks.
Three people died in those shootings. Two — 43-year-old Carlos Hunter and his 16-year-old Clayton Joseph — were people of color. A third, his 29-year-old Michael Pierce, was homeless and mentally he was thought to be in danger of health.
Since then, Vancouver police have used deadly force on at least four occasions.
Jasmine Tolbert, president of NAACP’s Vancouver chapter, said:
At the same meeting on Monday night, Vancouver aldermen agreed to pay William Abbe’s family $725,000. Three police officers shot and killed his 50-year-old man while he was under investigation for alleged assault. Bystanders documented the encounter, which greatly influenced a wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family more than a year later.
Vancouver is the largest police agency in southwest Washington state and could serve as a roadmap for smaller police agencies, according to local officials, so it’s not the first time in Clark County that Vancouver has installed police body cameras. It is important that the
“The most important part is that all[law enforcement agencies]in Clark County should operate on the same system,” said Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office does not yet have body cameras. Atkins said he has tested the vendor in 2021 and is looking to sort out funding.
Local voters passed some sales taxes in August for public safety. The county is expected to get about $7 million from taxes, but cities will split about $4.8 million based on population size.
“The money won’t hit until March. Nothing will be finalized now that elections are on the horizon,” Atkins said, referring to November’s general election.
The Camas Police Department signed its own deal with Axon late last year and announced the camera program in March. No other agency in Clark County has a body camera program.
The Washougal Police Department is testing two vendors this year and hopes to pursue funding next year. A Ridgefield Police Department official said the body camera was “on radar”.
Still, local leaders have been quick to remind the public that body cameras don’t solve everything. Vancouver City Councilman Ty Stober called the cameras “really exciting.” warned that it was “not true”.
“I think there are a lot of people who think they are true,” Stover said. “They are points of data that help us serve the public.”
NAACP Vancouver president Tolbert said she and other civil rights groups will be closely monitoring how the footage is used.
Kapp, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department, told OPB that the agency has already developed some policies regarding the new program. She added that the policy has been revised and that the updated policy will be implemented before the cameras are deployed.