In arming police with video devices, some cities face friction for acting fast
American cities rushed to provide police departments with body cameras, spurred by public outcry over shooting incidents in Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere. Having moved fast, however, cities are now running into friction, often from within their own ranks.
Opponents of the contract arrangements say officials may have cut corners by signing no-bid deals, by not testing options thoroughly or by becoming too cozy with vendors. Other cities, after hurrying into camera initiatives, have found unexpected costs, and some are pulling back.
Memphis decided it urgently needed body cameras to provide more police accountability. As with many cities, it turned to a familiar company, Taser International Inc., the stun-gun king, and last year reached a $4.5 million agreement for 2,000 cameras.
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Soon, Memphis learned its then-mayor’s campaign manager had business relations with Taser through a consulting firm, drawing public criticism. City officials then concluded that processing the flood of footage would require it to hire far more staff than expected.
Jim Strickland, the new mayor who took office in January, put the Taser body-camera rollout on hold. “I believe in the use of body cameras,” he said in an email. “But in the effort to do something good for our people and our officers, the process was rushed. We want to do this the right way.”Read the rest of the story HERE.
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