Decatur considering purchase of body cameras for police officers

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 16, 2015
Decatur Police Officers compare notes in the parking lot of Decatur High. File photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Decatur Police Officers compare notes in the parking lot of Decatur High. File photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The Decatur City Commission will consider a request for the purchase of body cameras for the city’s police force.

Body cameras are becoming increasingly common in police departments throughout the country amid an ongoing controversy over the deaths of unarmed black suspects shot by officers. While there have been no high-profile shooting incidents in Decatur, some departments are using body cameras as a defensive measure. The Atlanta Police Department recently began outfitting its officers with the cameras.

While Decatur hasn’t faced an uproar over a police shooting, it has faced criticism from residents over treatment of black citizens and visitors by police officers. The city is currently developing a Community Action Plan to address issues surrounding the decreasing amount of diversity in the city.

The City Commission’s Aug. 17 agenda includes a request to approve the purchase of the cameras and the financing for the purchase. The total cost of the equipment will be $173,477, financed over three years. In a memo to City Manager Peggy Merriss, Police Chief Booker said the cameras have several benefits, including:

– Strengthening police accountability by documenting incidents and encounters between officers and the public.

– Preventing confrontational situations by improving officer professionalism and the behavior of people being recorded.

– Resolving officer-involved incidents and complaints by providing a more accurate record of events.

– Improving transparency by allowing the public to see video evidence of police activities and

– Strengthening officer performance by using video footage for officer training and monitoring.

– Improving evidence documentation for investigations and prosecutions.

The City Commission meeting begins with a work session at 6:45 p.m. The regular meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Meetings are held at city hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street, and all meetings are open to the public.

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