If Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton gets his way, all police officers in the city will be outfitted with body-worn cameras within the next three years.
In a joint statement with Councilwoman Thelda Williams, Stanton said he officially is asking City Manager Ed Zuercher to include funding for such a program in next year's budget.
This announcement comes after months of relentless pressure by the local Black Lives Matter group and other city activists to expand the number of officers wearing cameras.
In 2011, Phoenix started a body-worn camera pilot program for 150 officers working in the Maryvale Precinct, and the city teamed up with researchers at Arizona State University to study the impacts.
The program has widely been seen as a success, and a report published last year noted that the “findings suggest that officer-worn body cameras may increase officer productivity, reduce the number of complaints against officers, decrease the number of founded complaints against them, and increase the effectiveness in which criminal cases are processed in the courts."
Also late last year, the city received a federal grant that will allow the PPD to double the number of officers wearing cameras and expand the study.
“The city’s pilot body-worn camera program demonstrated that engagement with the community improved [and] compliance with officers improved,” Williams says in a statement, “and we can confidently move forward to expand the program by including it in our budget plans.”
“If one tool can help our police officers more effectively do their jobs while reducing complaints and improving community relations, then it’s an investment that Phoenix has to make,” echoed Stanton, adding that “[Phoenix] Police Chief Joe Yahner summed it up best: Body-worn cameras are good for both officers and the people they serve.”
Stanton and Williams, unlike some other City Council members, previously have not expressed enthusiasm or concern about more officers wearing cameras.
“Mayor Stanton's call for body cams on all officers is a good first step toward transparency and trust,” local activist Geoff Woods says, before adding that he'd still “like to see a body-cam policy with accountability for officers who tamper with or turn off cameras” and one that makes videos more accessible to the public.
Whether the PPD will support Stanton and Williams' call is unclear. Late last year, PPD spokesman Sergeant Trent Crump told New Times, “It’s just not nearly as simple as some people make it [out to be].
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“There are effectiveness issues, privacy issues [and] training issues," he said, "and you need to ensure that state laws are in place that cover how to store the material [the cameras record],” meaning, he added, that the department can’t just give every officer a camera and send him or her out on patrol.
The PPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Read Stanton and William's letter: