The mayor of San Francisco wants to spend $6.6 million over two years to equip every patrol officer with a body-worn camera, a move that comes amid a national firestorm over the way police treat African-American men.
Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco County Board Supervisor London Breed and San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr held a news conference on Thursday to tout a package of public safety reforms that would buy the cameras for up to 1,800 officers. Lee also wants to hire 250 new officers over the next two years that would cost $21.3 through 2017. The money will come out of the mayor's budget, and will include software, video storage and staffing.
Lee said the cameras would allow the city's officers to do their jobs with "greater transparency and accountability."
Suhr said the cameras will protect officers and citizens from "both sides of the lens," and likely force both to "behave better."
Several other Bay Area jurisdictions have already deployed officer-worn cameras, including Oakland, Gilroy, Union City, Los Gatos, Campbell and BART. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union, which had been skeptical of the "cop cams" over privacy issues, noted that about 25 percent of the country's 17,000 police agencies are using the technology, with 80 percent evaluating them.
In San Jose, Police Chief Larry Esquivel said he wants to test out body cameras for a dozen officers before spending $1 million to suit up his entire department.
And in California, the Assembly Public Safety Committee voted earlier this month to approve a measure that would set the same guideliens for all law-enforcement officers who wear the cameras.
Protests have in recent months swept the nation following several highly publicized police killings of unarmed black men, and the San Francisco leaders brought up those recent stories as reasons to law enforcement and community relations.
Since Michael Brown was fatally shot in August by a white officer in Ferguson, Mo., many have called for more accountability - a call heightened this month with the in-custody injury that led to the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.