Body cameras on all IMPD officers unlikely without grant money

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 22, 2015) — Now that the city of Indianapolis knows it can’t rely on grant money to pay for police body cameras, it’s working on a short-term plan.

The Department of Public Safety and city-county councillors on both sides of the aisle told CBS4 essentially the same thing about the plan for the cameras moving forward.

“We want to make sure we do this right,” Deputy Director of Public Safety Bryan Roach said.

“I think we need to do it in a smart way,” councillor Aaron Freeman (R) said.

“I’m hoping that we will do it right,” councillor Stephen Clay (D) said.

It looks like getting the cameras on all 900 or more IMPD officers on the street is next to impossible, given a lack of funding and the questions still surrounding the technology and release of video.

“Clearly, I think, 2016 is out to do the entire department or even to do every officer that would patrol,” Freeman said.

In budget meetings last week, Chief Rick Hite said that the cameras are necessary but there are still a lot of unknowns, particularly when it comes to the legal aspect of releasing the video.

“There (are) some trust issues and transparency issues that we have to discuss,” Hite said.

In particular, the city is waiting for state legislators to weigh in and develop laws that govern the release of video. Roach said that the city could develop its own interim policy without state law in place.

For Clay, though, a clear policy is the number one priority.

“If we get the (cameras) without being clear about the policy, we’ve done the public a great injustice,” Clay said.

Roach told CBS4 that bids for a company to provide the cameras are almost complete and that the department planned to work with a $250,000 budget to buy as many as possible for next year.

He also said that they planned to create some kind of public forum to explain the challenges that come with the cameras and give people a chance to weigh in as IMPD implements them.

“We want to move forward and we’re excited about it, we just want to make sure that we do it slowly and don’t do anything that might hurt our citizens,” Roach said.

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