Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Under Pressure, Mayor Krewson Vows to Explore Body Cameras for St. Louis Police

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Under Pressure, Mayor Krewson Vows to Explore Body Cameras for St. Louis Police

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS -- Mayor Lyda Krewson, under pressure from top city politicians, said on Wednesday that she would form a committee to seek vendors to equip police with body cameras, after the idea fizzled two years ago.

Her statements mark something of a public reversal. Her staff said two weeks ago that body cameras were too expensive. And, two years ago, her administration backed out of a trial, saying recently that the department then more urgently needed other items -- patrol car dash cameras, GPS, computers and radios, for instance.

But the issue resurfaced Wednesday at a meeting of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, the city's top fiscal body. Aldermanic President Lewis Reed called on Krewson and city Comptroller Darlene Green to spend surplus dollars, and quickly, on the cameras.

"This is a major discussion that began here in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting," Reed told Green and Krewson. "And we're still sitting here, and to have it be this difficult to even get it on the agenda so we can take a real look at this is just beyond me."

Reed suggested using $5 million of a $23 million budget surplus this year, half of which can be used for capital expenses.

He estimated that the cost to the city would be a little more than $1 million per year, covering cameras for the department's 1,100 officers, plus the necessary data storage and maintenance. Reed said he got his cost estimates from St. Louis County's police body camera vendor, Utility Associates, Inc.

St. Louis County police officials announced earlier this month that 700 officers will be outfitted with body cameras by April. The $5 million purchase is being paid for by Proposition P, a tax hike approved by voters in 2017.The chest-mounted cameras secured inside the officers' uniforms automatically activate when gunshots are detected, when officers start running or when they draw their guns. …

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