Madison Common Council’s body camera resolution pushes opponents to speak out | Institutes


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Opposition to the body camera proposal



MADISON (WKOW) – Members of the Madison Common Council on Tuesday night introduced a resolution that would allow a one-year body-worn camera pilot program for officers in the Northern District.

The 2021 capital budget provided for $ 83,000 for 48 cameras, other equipment and training.

The entire Common Council could vote on the resolution next month, but there are several sticking points.

Dr Gregory Gelembiuk, a former member of the Public Safety Review Committee, said there should be more feedback from residents and more transparency in the approval process regarding the cameras, especially due to Madison Ordinance 23.63, which states, in part, that approval for surveillance such as body cameras must be approved after determining that the benefits to the community outweigh the potential interests of privacy.

Gelebiuk said: “In fact, I was strongly in favor of body cameras, my opinion changed over time as scientific test data was released.”

Gelembiuk said he changed his mind because he believed the disadvantages of body cameras outweighed the advantages.

“Body camera video is often sold to people because hey, here is this great tool for police accountability, but it is actually used, almost exclusively, as evidence in prosecutions against civilians and in particular prosecutions for civilians. minor offenses where before you wouldn’t. had video evidence. “

He also raised concerns that body camera video could distort perception and could lead to an increase in racial-based policing.

“If the officer interacts with a black on white individual and uses excessive force with a black individual when body camera video is used, instead of saying you know, a neutral viewer video, they will judge the actions of the officer as well as not deserving of punishment, ”Gelembiuk said.

Syed Abbas, president of Madison Common Council, said: “This particular topic around body-worn cameras was created by the city on committees to create a feasibility report, and they spent four years. “

Abbas supports body cameras. He thinks enough studies have been done to show that people want more methods of police accountability.

“I’m not against any public approval. I think that’s the beauty of our democratic system, which is that people give their opinion. This has been discussed at length for years and years and I think it is. it’s time for us at the council to really listen to our constituents and truly represent them in the Common Council, ”Abbas said.

Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes made the following statement:

“Body-worn cameras go a long way in building trust and transparency with our public. They hold officers accountable or exonerate those who have done nothing wrong. The Madison Police Department used cameras. worn on the body in limited capacity for several years with our tactical operations. The department has been equipped with on-board video cameras for almost two years, however, this video captures only a limited perspective of what is happening. on the body provide a detailed perspective and play a vital role in improving the transparency of the department. I support the pilot program as it allows us to ensure that body-worn cameras are the right option for the community and the Madison Police Department. I want to stress that we support the pilot program because it gives us the chance to see if they are a good option for Madison. “

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