EVERETT — In the near future, the Everett Police Department may equip a handful of officers with body cameras, recording interactions with the public up close and personal.
It’s part of a pilot program that the department wants to start with 10 cameras. Police Chief Dan Templeman said he has been exploring the idea since 2016.
The department allocated $100,000 in the 2019 budget to buy 50 cameras. But the plan for now is to start small and evaluate, Templeman wrote in an email.
“The pilot program will give us a better sense of what type of funding would be needed if the decision is made to move forward with a department-wide deployment at some point,” he wrote. “Across the nation, police body-camera programs have shown to improve public trust, increase civility during encounters between officers and community members, corroborate evidence, and provide training opportunities.”
To measure success, the department will track the number of times that officers use force, the number of assaults against police, community complaints, on-the-job injuries and guilty pleas made before trial.
Eventually, depending on how successful the pilot is, the whole force may be equipped with cameras, Templeman wrote. Fully staffed, the department has 206 officers.
It may take time for the program to get started. The department is finalizing a policy for body cameras that will then go through a review process. The Chief’s Community Advisory Board, composed of people who live or work in Everett, will be part of the discussion, and the public at large will also have a chance to chime in, Templeman wrote. The police union is also involved, he said.
The department had thought about asking the City Council for over $150,000 to apply for a matching grant that would have equipped almost every single officer with a camera.
The grant, totaling over $300,000 including the city’s money, is through the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program. It would have been enough to buy 150 cameras, which the department estimated cost $2,000 each.
But the deadline was June 5 — not enough time to get all the details straightened out, Templeman wrote. The department might try for another grant cycle sometime next year, he wrote.
After talking with other agencies, Templeman said he wanted to figure out the cost and process for public disclosure requests, which would need staff and resources to store, organize and redact video.
The retracted grant proposal suggested that body cameras would provide more safety for both officers and the public. And the video could be incorporated in training and used in civil or criminal investigations.
Reporter Lizz Giordano contributed to the story.