EVERETT — With $300,000 earmarked in next year’s city budget, the Everett Police Department is another step closer to equipping its officers with body cameras.
A pilot program equipping 10 officers with cameras could start by the end of 2019, Everett Deputy Police Chief John DeRousse said.
The pilot will last no more than six months and will test the viability of going department-wide with the program, DeRousse said. Fully staffed, the department has more than 200 officers.
Police Chief Dan Templeman previously said that he’s been exploring the idea since 2016.
“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 in an email to The Daily Herald in May. “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 the effect of the cameras, the department will compare 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.
DeRousse said next year’s funding, along with $100,000 allocated for the program in the 2019 budget, should be enough to equip every officer with a camera, estimated to cost $2,000 each. Still unclear is how much money it will take to process public disclosure requests, which would need staff and resources to store, organize and redact video.
The department likely will look into grants to offset some of the costs, DeRousse said. Last spring, department leaders considered asking the city council for $150,000 to apply for a matching grant through the U.S. Department of Justice. But the police department needed more time to straighten out the details, Templeman wrote at the time.
That proposal suggested 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.
The Everett Police Officers Association has signaled its support for the cameras. In an email, union President James Collier said officers have asked for them in the past, and some have even volunteered to buy cameras themselves.
Collier called the cameras a “tool for transparency, improving accountability and professionalism.”
But, he added, the cameras are not by themselves a “total package solution.”
“Technology will never replace the hard work that needs to occur between humans,” Collier wrote. “We as human beings need to do the heavy lifting to maintain positive human relationships.”