- Associated Press - Thursday, September 17, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A budget proposal that includes funding to begin equipping Indianapolis’ police officers with body cameras has sparked concerns about the city’s plans to rely on federal grants to outfit the rest of its officers with the wearable cameras.

The proposed $257.6 million budget for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was detailed Wednesday, and it includes $250,000 to begin equipping the city’s 900 patrol officers with the cameras.

Although the camera funding request is a tiny slice of the proposed budget, it dominated the budget discussion by the City-County Council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee, The Indianapolis Star reported (https://indy.st/1FP7mcj ).

Black leaders called on the city to equip officers with body cameras last month after officers fatally shot a 15-year-old carjacking suspect. Authorities have said the confrontation wasn’t captured by any department cameras.

Mayor Greg Ballard’s office plans to seek federal grants to cover the estimated $2 million and $3 million cost of outfitting the officers with the body cameras - which are valued at $800 to $1,200 per unit - over the next three to five years.

But it’s uncertain whether Indianapolis will land that federal funding, which raised concerns among some officials, including Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder. Snyder also called on city officials to more openly discuss and acknowledge the costs of buying body cameras and maintaining the large amounts of video data they produce.

“We have serious concerns related to the minimal investment of $200,000 within the mayor’s proposal and what appears to be an over-reliance on federal grants,” Snyder said.

Last month, Ballard spokeswoman Jen Pittman said the mayor’s office would work with the City-County Council to identify other funding sources if the city fails to land federal funding.

Wednesday’s budget presentation came ahead of a full council vote on the proposed budget. That vote is expected in the coming weeks.

Public Safety Director David Wantz called the competition for the grants “stiff.” He said officials expect to hear more about that potential funding by the end of this month.

Indianapolis police tested cameras from three vendors during a months-long pilot program that ended in July.


Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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