MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG)– Every officer within Mobile Police Department will soon be equipped with body cameras to ensure safety and transparency.
Mobile City Council approved funding Tuesday to equip all sworn-in Mobile Police officers with body cameras. This also includes the purchase of tasers and a data storage service.
This is an effort to improve transparency and safety at a time when our nation is demanding it from police.
The new cameras will function like this:
If blue lights are turned on or a gun or taser is drawn any camera within a 30-foot radius will automatically turn on. So, if only one officer draws a weapon all officers responding will have footage of what takes place.
“We’ve taken a leap of faith to make sure that within the Mobile Police Department can make sure that he or she is inoculated,” Director Lawrence Battiste said “When we are taking enforcement action within the community we want to preserve the encounter and the accuracy of the encounter as much as we possibly can.”
During a time when police have been involved in deadly shootings like the death of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Heights Minnesota this week, releasing footage can be that needed transparency.
Mobile Police has a different view though and this expansion of cameras doesn’t change how they plan on proceeding with releasing the footage.
“There are times when we have been extremely transparent with individual families, but not the media with sharing that information because the right to know in many cases is a personal matter and in sharing with them it does allow for people outside the scope of what took place to interject an opinion that their motive can be totally different than to get justice.”
The department is also working on getting all officers low-bearing vests, where a strong magnet will hold the body cam and a taser will not be on a holster, but the vest itself leaving less room for error.
“Every recruiting class that comes through now gets a low bearing vest. We just try to improve and enhance what we do.” Battiste says. All of this to ensure the right protocols are taken and safety is at the forefront.
June 1 is the date they are aiming at right now to have every officer equipped with these cameras. The total cost Battiste says will be nearing $2 Million. Once completed, the majority of that coming from the surplus seen by not having to pay officers overtime during Mardi Gras.