Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an executive order Monday that requires police officers to wear body cameras.
Murray made the decision despite ongoing negotiations between the Seattle Police Officers Guild and the city, as The Seattle Times reported. His order, which notes “compelling research showing that body-worn video dramatically reduces both civilian complaints against officers and the use of force by officers,” also comes one month after the controversial fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles.
“Body cameras improve behavior and de-escalation on both sides of the camera,” Murray said in a statement. “We have taken far too long to fully implement the body camera program due to legislative gridlock — it is past time to move forward. This order will get cameras on officers on the street, so we know what happens during interactions with the public. This level of accountability is good for both officers and the public, and will help build trust in a time where the community, particularly the African American community, is hurting.”
All West Precinct bike patrol officers will be required to wear cameras by July 22, with all officers in the precinct equipped with cameras by October. “All other officers will get body cameras on a monthly precinct by precinct basis,” a city release noted.
The Seattle City Council approved funding legislation in February to equip all police officers with body cameras by the end of 2017. But the plan was delayed after concerns over how and when officers could view the video; there were also the still-ongoing negotiations with the guild.
The Seattle Police Department has been piloting body cameras for the past few years after receiving federal grants. The cameras are built by Axon, formerly called Taser International, which opened an engineering office in Seattle three years ago.