Madison City Council delays decision on MPD body camera pilot program The Badger Herald
Madison Common Council pushed back the proposal for the year-long pilot program that donates body-worn cameras within the Madison Police Department and will address the issue on April 19.
If council goes ahead with the resolution, the city will allocate a proposal of $83,000 for the purchase of 48 body cameras for Northern District officers, WMTV reported.
Alderman Patrick Heck and Alderman Charles Myadze said the proposal is being sent back to council at a later date due to a order requiring a public hearing process for the implementation of surveillance technology.
The proposed body warning camera pilot program is part of the Police Worn Camera Feasibility Review Committee report which was released last year. Among other recommendations, testing of surveillance technology was listed as a prerequisite for full implementation of cameras.
Heck said the public safety review committee had other issues with the resolution that it felt needed to be addressed.
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“You had to figure out how the charges would or wouldn’t come out of the body-worn cameras and several other important things that aren’t included in the resolution,” Heck said.
Heck said money was another issue. The board’s estimate for the cost of the program included using the police department’s overtime budget to fund some operational portions of the pilot program. Heck said that because overtime budgets are for emergencies and unforeseen expenses, some board members were hesitant.
“There are incidents that require police overtime and so we didn’t think it was appropriate to use the police overtime budget for something that is a predictable expense,” said heck.
Many council members are divided in their opinions on how the city should move forward with the use of body-worn cameras.
Heck said there were aldermen who strongly supported or opposed the proposal, but one thing he thought everyone agreed on was that body cameras wouldn’t solve all the problems.
“It is certainly true that [in the case of] George Floyd and many of the police killings of citizens over the past few years that have attracted so much attention – body-worn cameras have been deployed and these incidents have still happened.” heck said.
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In response to complaints Madison is taking too long to start using body cameras, Heck said he doesn’t necessarily think that’s the case. Heck said he hopes for a rigorous study of the issue and data from the pilot program before body-worn cameras are used for MPD in general.
Alderman Charles Myadze strongly supports the pilot program and said he disagreed with opposing arguments on funding. Myadze said the benefits of having technology like this in the community should not be overlooked.
“The costs cannot be considered in a vacuum without considering the benefits and some of those benefits cannot be quantified, such as avoiding complaints, lawsuits, settlements and verdicts and the community can see what has happened. happened in a high-profile case,” Myadze said.
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In cases like the murder of George Floyd, Myadze felt body cameras were important because of the additional footage they provided. He said that in cases where body cameras were not deployed, the public missed important information.
Myadze said the argument that body cameras would further incriminate marginalized communities is a delaying tactic. He added that with home cameras and the amount of surveillance equipment on the streets today, citizens are already often filmed by cameras.
“Ever since Tony Robinson died, people have been asking for body cameras,” Myadze said. “[body cameras] could have been something that would certainly have been used while people are still crying out for justice.
Myadze said key figures – both locally and nationally – have spoken out in support of police-worn body cameras. Myadze said he thinks it’s important to listen to people who have expertise in racial equity and want these programs in place, explaining that public engagement will be beneficial.
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Myadze said if the pilot program continues and MPD officers wear body cameras, trust will be rebuilt in the community after it has been lacking for a long time – especially within the black community. He added that the police department will also benefit from an additional training tool.
“It is not a panacea to solve all police conduct problems, but it is one of the tools that we can use in conjunction with other police reforms to bring the confidence that the community needs,” Myadze said.
Myadze said he thinks people, especially those working for racial equity, should start watching and attending council meetings instead of writing letters.
“I think if my colleagues knew and spoke to people who have been studying this issue for a long time, [the pilot program could] definitely be adopted.