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All Detroit police officers to have body cameras within 3 years

Aug 18, 2015

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig announced plans Tuesday to outfit all DPD officers with body cameras.
Credit Rebecca Kruth

The Detroit Police Department says it's moving forward with plans to put body cameras on all officers. All marked police vehicles will have dashboard cameras too.

Last spring, the DPD announced a 90-day pilot program to test several body cameras in the field.

Mayor Mike Duggan said the 20 officers who volunteered to be part of the program concluded "the technology works."

"The city of Detroit (wants) to build a police department where every officer-citizen interaction is recorded," Duggan said, "We believe that's the best way to hold people accountable who do something wrong and the best way to quickly exonerate people who are falsely accused."

DPD says it will start rolling out the new body cams in early 2016 and will have all officers outfitted within three years.

The department also plans to install dashboard cameras in all 409 of the city's marked patrol cars within the next 12 months. Currently, only about half have fully functioning dash cams.

This fall, officers will test a system that integrates the two sets of cameras and allows for easy comparison of the footage.

Police Chief James Craig says he's "extremely excited" for the new technology, which he says will bring more transparency to the department.

"It's no secret when you look across the nation, many departments and cities are grappling with (their) relationship to the community because of, in many respects, the absence of transparency," Craig said.

Duggan said federal grants and funds from the police capital budget will cover the nearly $3 million needed to implement the new body camera systems.

The new dash cameras will cost about $350,000, which Duggan said is already in the police budget.

A camera vendor has not yet been selected.

Special Operations Officer John Siejutt took part in the initial 90-day pilot program. He called it an "eye-opening experience."

"Everybody's out there with a cell phone, so why not tell your own story of what really happened at a scene? If someone makes an allegation, you can say, 'We have video. This is what truly happened," he said.