- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Memphis Police Department has begun assigning newly received body cameras to officers, with a goal of giving the equipment to more than 2,000 officers by the end of the year, Police Director Toney Armstrong said Wednesday.

Armstrong told reporters at a news conference that the department has received 500 body cameras from its vendor, Taser. About 50 officers per day are being trained on the equipment, which will provide more transparency to police operations, Armstrong said.

“Body cameras have been credited with changing the way officers and public interact with one another,” Armstrong said. “I also believe that the introduction of body cameras to this department has the potential to improve community relations, lower the number of citizens’ complaints, defend officers against false accusations and provide greater agency accountability.”

Armstrong says the 500 cameras should be handed out by early October, with more than 2,000 deployed by the end of the year. The department currently has roughly 2,150 officers. Mike Shore, a Taser vice president, said it is the most aggressive rollout of its Axon Flex body cameras among the law enforcement agencies it serves.

The department also expects to equip about 400 police vehicles with in-car video by January. The car and body cameras will be automatically triggered by actions such as the activation of blue lights on police cars, the removal of the patrol rifle or shotgun from its holding place, vehicle speed in excess of 75 mph, and vehicle impact, police said. The system also can be activated manually.

Calls for body cameras and in-car video increased after the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man by an officer and the shooting death of a Memphis police officer earlier this year.

The cost to equip an officer with a body camera is about $9,000, police said. Equipping a police car with a camera costs about $15,714, police said.

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