Tacoma talks implementing body cameras to police

Tacoma City leaders on Tuesday discussed the future of the police department, specifically focusing on body-worn cameras.

Following the death of Manuel Ellis while in Tacoma Police Custody, the city has been working to make changes to its police department.

Already, Tacoma Police committed to implementing all “8 can’t wait” policy goals. Now, Tacoma is talking about investing in police body cameras, however, this is not a new topic.

The idea has been in discussion in the city for about four years, and some community members say just talking about cameras is not enough.

“The question is when. What day will you have body cameras on every officer,” said Tisha.

Tisha is the Founder of Legally Black, which stands for 'brave lifted altruistic creative and keen,' an organization based in Tacoma working to welcome all people to fight for equality.

Tisha, and other members of the organization, asked to not include their last names.

The group is working to implement five specific changes to law enforcement including removing qualified immunity, releasing misconduct reports of officers, implementing all "8 can’t wait" policies, improving initial training and continuing that training and finally requiring mandatory body cameras.

The group says while Tacoma is talking about body cams, they still are not committing to when they will be on the streets.

“There is no excuse for it not to be implemented; there is no excuse for them to not have projected dates,” said Tanisha who is the president of Legally Black.

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards says she wants to get bodycams on officers as soon as possible

“We want to move swiftly, but we also want to make sure we include all the processes that need happen so that we get the best body cam program in Tacoma,’ said Woodards.

Right now, the city has a draft for how the cameras would be used, however, that is not a final policy.

Click here to read the draft plan of how body cams would be used by Tacoma Police

Woodards says they want to get input on this draft policy from not just city officials, but the Citizen Police Advisory Committee, and members of the community before making any decisions.

Current estimates have first year cost for cameras between $175k -$810k, with the ongoing cost between $175k - $480k depending on the vendor.

Woodards says they expect to have a specific timeline for when these cameras could be implemented by their July 7th meeting.