BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A proposed ordinance mandating body cameras on all Baton Rouge police officers has been delayed while council members continue to debate whether they are comfortable imposing a funding mandate on the city law enforcement agency.
The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1HOepay) the Mayor-President’s Office, the Metro Council and the police department all agreed body cameras are a good idea and one worth pursuing.
But at issue is funding and timing.
On Wednesday, the Metro Council agreed to defer for two weeks a vote to make the new technology mandatory for all police officers by Jan. 1. But the deferral came after a failed attempt to pass the ordinance.
The council voted 6-2 in favor of the ordinance, short of the seven votes needed for passage.
Council members John Delgado and Trae Welch said they both support the concept of cameras but had concerns about the cost burden being placed on city police.
Delgado also had concerns about privacy issues created by camera footage.
“Can someone request footage for every day of every officer?” Delgado asked. “If I see my neighbor get pulled over on the side of the road, can I request that? The idea that this data becomes a public record gives me some concern about their privacy and personal safety.”
Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. told the Metro Council that he was uncomfortable about being forced to carve out funding for the program without the promise of additional funds. He said a funding mandate would mean he would have to cut other resources, like manpower.
“I do want the body cameras; law enforcement is moving in that direction,” Dabadie said. “But if you’re going to make a mandate for me to have them, then in my opinion you need to mandate a way to pay for them.”
Dabadie said it was unclear how much it would cost to outfit the roughly 300 uniform patrol officers with cameras and pay for servers and storage space necessary to process the footage. He estimated it could cost millions of dollars.
Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com
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