Seattle Mayor Ed Murray wants to use city funds for a handful of technology-related projects.
The mayor wants $1.8 million to give each Seattle police officer a body-worn camera, which would be on top of a $600,000 federal grant the city won earlier this month for the devices.
“We know that body cameras improve interactions between officers and the public and reduce the likelihood that force will be used,” Murray said in a statement. “We will work carefully to get this right and adequately address privacy concerns.”
The Seattle Police Department conducted a 6-month pilot test with body-worn cameras earlier this year. A recent report from the city’s police monitor suggested that every officer should be wearing a body camera. Other events around the country have led to more officials calling for always-on cameras that will help analyze and monitor police use of force.
Murray also asked for $5 million to expand Seattle’s Pronto bike-share program. In addition, the city is also applying for a $10 million federal grant that would help grow the program from 51 stations and 500 bikes to 250 stations and 2,500 bikes, some of which would be electric.
The current program, which launched about one year ago, is essentially a Car2go for bicycles and allows people to rent seven-gear bikes, pedal around, and then drop off the bike at any of the 51 docking stations in town spread around the University District, South Lake Union, Downtown and Capitol Hill. The additional funding would help the service reach other neighborhoods.
The mayor also requested money to create a new “chief privacy officer” position within the city who would “address potential privacy concerns and safeguard personal data” across various city departments.
In his budget highlights, Murray also noted his plan to streamline IT services within city government. Next April, the “Seattle Information Technology Department” will consolidate IT positions currently housed in 15 different departments and instead include five divisions: Engineering and Operations; Leadership, Planning and Security; Digital Engagement; Business Office and Citywide IT Initiatives.
Aside from tech-related initiatives, Murray said that 25 percent of the city’s sales tax revenue now comes from the “local construction boom” — Amazon.com, among other companies, is certainly part of this “boom” with several buildings and towers being built near downtown Seattle to help accommodate its massive growth.