MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile City Council pushes forward to approve funding for additional body cameras to be purchased for Mobile Police.
The cost of this venture will be $1.3 million. This is an effort to make good on the mayor’s promise last summer to outfit all sworn officers and to improve transparency and safety. Currently, MPD has more than 500 body cameras on uniformed officers.
“Often, you have complaints against police officers, and if you have a recording of it, you can disprove that or it can prove it, so that helps with transparency. And if there is inappropriate behavior, the officer will have access to that,” Stimpson said.
City council is holding off for a formal vote at the next council meeting, but overall, council members are for the funding. Councilman Fred Richardson said, “This is not a small matter. This is big for our city, our citizens, and our police officers. It notes that we are for accountability and that we are not running from accountability.”
For those who have been searching for this transparency and accountability, it can be bittersweet. Georgette Sons, one of those who’s been on that side. Her son, Treyh Webster, was shot and killed by SWAT officers who were not wearing body cams back in February. They were issuing a warrant for his arrest at the time. Sons has avidly said the officers did not follow correct protocol and treated them poorly, but without footage, it cannot be proved.
Sons said, “They probably wouldn’t have released the footage, but if they had body cams on that night, none of this would have happened. The way they treated us was inhumane. I hope that SWAT is required to wear body cams so that another mother getting her door kicked in and getting shot and then her son being shot and killed.”
When it comes to if this will make footage more accessible is another ball game. Currently, there is a piece of legislature, House Bill 6. It would only allow people who appear on the videos, their families or lawyers to request and see the footage or get a copy. To our knowledge, Mobile Police has never released any body camera footage. The mayor saying, “We are not planning on changing the policy. We want to be very thoughtful about what Mobile does versus what Montgomery does. So, at this point in time, we will not address that issue.”