The Charlotte City Council has voted to approve a $7 million contract with Taser International to buy body cameras and provide video storage systems for police officers. Since the recent headlines of the shooting deaths of Jonathan Ferrell in Charlotte and Michael Brown in Ferguson, police forces are turning to body cameras.
The manufacturers have said that its cameras start recording automatically when a stun gun is powered up by an officer or when police lights and sirens are turned on.
Major Stephen Willis with the Charlotte Police Department says that cameras will be activated at all “traffic stops, stop and frisks, arrest situations, uses of force.”
Citizens may also request that an officer start recording, although the officer may deny those requests. The CMPD’s policy states that body cameras will be turned off once an officer decides that an incident has entered an investigatory phase, which the police explain is a cost-saving measure since state law requires video evidence to be saved for 20 years in some situations.
The CMPD policy says these videos will not be considered public records and will not be accessible to the general public, a move that has been challenged by civil rights organizations.
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