MUKILTEO — The Mukilteo City Council approved funding last week for a police body camera program.
The city will pay at least $625,000 over the next five years to outfit the department with 30 cameras for all commissioned officers and hire a staffer to handle the expected influx of public records requests.
The funding passed the council unanimously Monday.
Police Chief Cheol Kang hopes the cameras can help improve accountability.
“It provides transparency through thorough documentation of law enforcement contacts with community members,” Kang said at Monday’s council meeting. “The recordings provide a level of objectivity that cannot be obtained in just police reports.”
This makes the Mukilteo Police Department the latest Snohomish County agency to move to get the equipment to comply with a new state law. The measure, part of a package of police reforms passed by state lawmakers earlier this year, requires law enforcement to record some interrogations in an attempt to increase transparency in felony and juvenile cases. In some instances, the recordings must be audio and video. The rules take effect Jan. 1.
Kang argued body cameras are the most effective way to do this.
The program will be paid for with a fraction of the $4.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds received by the city. Mukilteo also got about $85,000 from the state to offset costs caused by police reforms enacted this year.
Given their cost, few departments in the county have the cameras. The Tulalip Tribal Police Department has them. All Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies will likely start wearing them next year. Everett police in the past year bought 150 cameras for uniformed officers, who are all now equipped with them.
And Lynnwood similarly used the federal rescue funds to approve $530,000 for the cameras and staffing in August.
Many other local departments told The Daily Herald last month they were working to develop pilot programs or funding requests to acquire body-worn cameras.
Mukilteo police will be looking to get their equipment from market leader Axon. Their cameras can automatically start recording when guns or Tasers are pulled from holsters. Axon also makes electronic stun guns and other equipment for law enforcement in an integrated system.
Kang estimated the cameras would be deployed in December.
Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; email@example.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.
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