- Associated Press - Sunday, December 20, 2015

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Fayetteville’s police chief says a policy on body cameras for his department could be posted publicly as soon as Monday, with the cameras deployed in coming weeks.

The Fayetteville Observer (https://goo.gl/MXCcsn ) reports that the city’s department is purchasing about 300 cameras at a cost of $1.2 million. Chief Harold Medlock said he expects all offices to be equipped with body cameras by the middle of January.

He said his department’s policy draws from the International Association of Chiefs of Police as well as departments in Greensboro and Charlotte that are already using such cameras.

But he also hosted three forums with community members to tailor the policy to his city’s needs.

“What I wanted was the thought from our community because Fayetteville is different than another city,” he said.

Under state law, the videos from the cameras area not public records, which concerns Jimmy Buxton, president of the Fayetteville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“I hope our delegation will push for legislation to be in place to make this more transparent for our citizens when it comes to attorneys and families,” Buxton said.

The cameras will be worn on an officer’s shirt collar or around the head. The newspaper reported that the cameras will always be on but will only record when the user pushes a button located on the belt.

The manual operation of the cameras frustrated some who came to the forums.

“They’re an excellent tool for greater transparency, but they’re only as good as the person who controls it,” said Allen Rogers, a Fayetteville lawyer who has represented families of victims in officer-involved shootings.

Medlock believes that state and local policies will evolve to allow greater access, but he noted that it will cost money to expand record-keeping.

“There’s a cost associated with everything,” he said. “During the meetings, folks said no matter the cost, let’s record everything, but where does that money come from? You charge three cents more on property taxes, and it changes the discussion.”

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