By Ariele Vaccaro
By the end of 2016, Mayor Barrett plans to see Milwaukee police officers equipped with the same body cameras that cities like Los Angeles and Ferguson, Mo. have granted their own police forces.
During an Aug. 30 press conference, Barrett expounded on the proposal for the cameras noted in his preliminary 2016 budget, stating that the 1,200 cameras would cost the city more than $800,000.
He feels the cameras will instill trust in the communities the officers serve.
Barrett has the support of Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) Chief Edward Flynn.
“We’re convinced that they’ll show that our officers are operating within the law, respecting the Constitution, and upholding their core values,” said Flynn during the conference.
However, Alderman Joe Davis isn’t convinced that the cameras would be used correctly.
In a statement, he expressed concern that officers would be able to turn off the cameras and potentially compromise the integrity of the recording.
“It seems to me that by giving officers the discretion to turn their cameras off, we are also undermining one of the most important goals of this initiative— earning the trust of our minority communities and bridging the divide between police and people of color,” wrote Davis.
According to Flynn, officers would be able to turn off the cameras during times of sensitive or personal distress for those who may have been directly affected by a crime.
Common Council members have been urging the use of body cameras since last winter.
In reaction to the controversial death of mentally ill, African-American man Dontre Hamilton who was shot by a Milwaukee police officer, city officials made up a plan to stop a similar tragedy from happening in the future.
The Common Council requested funding for 50 body cameras in the last budget, according to a Dec. 2015 report by 89.7 WUWM.
Around the same time, President Barack Obama unveiled his own plan called, “Strengthening Community Policing”.
The plan included methods to better community police relations, increase government oversight of policing, and provide new training and policing models.
Milwaukee will be one of numerous cities to begin using body cameras. Police officers in Ferguson, Mo. began wearing cameras while on duty shortly after the shooting death of unarmed, Black teenager Michael Brown.
The officer, Darren Wilson, was not wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting.
In April of this year, Los Angeles became the largest American city to equip its officers with body cameras.
Privacy has been an issue for a number of cities instituting body cameras, as police officers sometimes must enter private homes and residences while on duty.