Spokane police set to roll out body cameras - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Spokane police set to roll out body cameras

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

SPOKANE, Wash.- KHQ confirmed Monday, August 18th, that on September 1st, Spokane police will give 17 officers body cameras. The Spokane Center for Justice is voicing concern about the 's policy regarding body cameras for the pilot program. They say the policy is too flexible.

“To us, it said the officer has complete discretion when they want to turn [the camera] on and off,” said Julie Schaffer, Staff Attorney for the Center for Justice. “To us that limits its tool for transparency.”

Schaffer said the police should be required to turn the camera on anytime they respond to a call or interact with a citizen. However, she says the policy allows officers to turn off the camera if they decide a particular interaction doesn't need to be recorded. Furthermore, she said there is little oversight on what footage is stored at the station. She says there needs to be more supervision on that end.

Spokane Police disagree on those issues. They say those policies are still in draft form, and that's the purpose of this pilot program – to see what works and what needs to be changed.

The department told KHQ that they expect officers to activate their body camera anytime they interact with someone, with the exception of a sensitive situation, most likely with a victim. While the policy may not be finalized, they will not allow incidents to go unrecorded.

The issue of a body camera being left off has already hit this region. In Coeur d'Alene, one of the cities already using body cameras, an officer shot and killed a black Labrador last month as it sat in a parked van. The officer's camera was off at the time. Coeur d'Alene Police are still investigating and said they wish the officer's camera had been turned on. However, they still consider the cameras a huge success. And Tim Burns, Spokane's Ombudsman, believes with time the issue of keeping the cameras activated will become less of a problem.

“It comes down to muscle memory retention and it becomes routine like getting out of a car and unbuckling a seatbelt,” Burns told us.


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