APD looking at several different options for body cameras

The City of Austin is in support of equipping the Austin Police Department with body cameras.

But one problem, is finding agreement on exactly how they will be used.

Although they can provide good evidence, some people think stricter policies need to be in place first.

It's another set of eyes that can be used to show the truth. APD is looking to move in the same direction as other police departments across the country but the process is not easy.

"We have outfitted several officers in the downtown area with body cameras that the department purchased, but in the past they've been too clunky. The storage hasn't been correct, we didn't feel like the upload was going as well as it should. So we're looking into it again," says Asst. Chief Jason Dusterhoft, Austin Police Department.

The body cameras vary in price, anywhere from $800 - $1200.

Twenty-five APD officers have purchased one on their own.

There are none currently in use that have been purchased by department.

"What we're looking at, is for the body cameras to mimic the car cameras, which means it's going to be in the same storage. So it's going to be on our server. We're going to make sure it's secure, that's the biggest concern. We don't want it to where someone else can get into it," says Dusterhoft.

Their hope is to get 1,000 officers equipped with body cameras in less than two years.

The City of Austin is in support but they want to iron out all the details before moving forward, such as privacy concerns.

"This is not like a written document that somebody can take a black marker and simply strike out names or certain information. It's much more tedious to go through a video and blur out the faces of individuals that don't want to be revealed," says Don Zimmerman, council member, City of Austin.

All of this was discussed during the Public Safety Committee meeting on Monday.

Antonio Buehler has fought a legal battle with the Austin Police Department before.

He says body cameras can be positive if the right policies are in place

"There should be extreme penalties for any police officer that turns it off during any use-of-force incident. It should be automatic termination and an automatic external investigation into any criminal activity, that first and foremost. Secondly, they can't have control of the video, it needs to be uploaded to a third-party server," says Antonio Buehler, Peaceful Streets Project.

The Austin Police Department says they would like the body cameras to be triggered on during eventful situations.

They believe the benefits will outweigh the concerns, such as increased transparency, improved officer and citizen behavior, fewer complaints and lawsuit with improved evidence.

So who would pay for most of this?

Most likely the taxpayers.

The full price for all body cameras would be more than $2 million.

Then software and server space would cost around $3.5 million.



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