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Wilmington moves 2 steps closer on police body cameras

Wilmington has made two major advances on equipping all of its uniformed police officers with body cameras.

City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a contract for equipment and installation, WDEL reported. The vote was on the same day the city announced a $630,000 federal grant for body cameras.

The issue goes back a while. Police officials had tested several camera models in recent years, Delaware Public Media reported in June 2019.

Councilman Trippi Congo in September 2019 introduced measure calling for a five-year, $1,954,836 with Axon Enterprise, an Arizona company.

By June of this year, with protests escalating over the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police officers nationwide, city leaders were pledging to “to support police and racial justice reforms.” Those reforms include police body cameras, review of use of force policies, establishing a police review board and release of additional police procedures

With the grant coming from the United States Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Police Chief Robert J. Tracy said the next steps include discussions on policies with the FOP Lodge No. 1, the police union.

The department’s authorized staffing will increase to 319 officers from 315 to supervise the program. Tracy said the policies have been developed on program operations, storage and sharing of video and other administrative requirements. These policies are being reviewed by the city’s law and human resources departments and will be made public later. 

The news generated praise by all three of Delaware’s Congressional delegation and by state Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “The next step is clear: funding and deploying body-worn cameras on every officer across our state,” she said.

Axon’s home page says its cameras “capture truth. Connected cameras that tell the full story.”

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