IN Focus: Budget proposal for police body cameras

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INDIANAPOLIS (August 16, 2015) - Mayor Greg Ballard will ask the City-County Council to find funding for more police body cameras on Monday, when he presents his proposed 2016 budget to the Council.

A recent police shooting in Indianapolis has sparked renewed calls for more police body cameras. IMPD officers shot and killed 15-year-old alleged carjacker Andre Green last week after he allegedly rammed the stolen car into a police squad car.

“This is a tragic story. It’s tragic on so many levels,” said Reverend Charles Harrison.

A day after the shooting, Reverend Harrison hopes the deadly incident encourages the city to equip every officer with a body worn camera.

“The video cameras help provide a little more transparency. That helps when you have this climate that we’ve seen all across the country where you have this distrust,” said Harrison.

During a recent test run, 65 IMPD officers wore body cameras.

The department doesn’t use dash cameras and there’s no plan to change that.

“The reality is if we move in direction of body cameras, there is no need for dash cams because it goes beyond what a dash cam would provide,” said IMPD Lt. Mark Wood.

The issue isn’t unique to the IMPD.

Less than 20 percent of all state troopers have dash cameras in their cars.

“Our stance is we would like to see all our patrol officers in uniform with a body camera,” said Lt. Wood. “Without a doubt that’s our goal, but obviously finances are a part of that. It’s not a cheap proposition.”

Wood estimates it would cost 2 to 3 million dollars to put body cameras on all 900 officers, but some say that’s money well spent.

“I would encourage the city-county council to find money to invest in these cameras because I think it would serve this community well,” said Harrison.

Right now there is no timeline for the city to implement body cameras on all officers.

The mayor has announced plans to include an item in the budget to partially pay for body cameras by matching federal funds.

The city would contribute $200,000 in 2016. The whole program would cost $2 million over three to five years. Mayor Ballard hopes grant money would cover the rest.