Bellingham, WA recently signed a deal for body cams worth $130,000 with Taser International. According to the Bellingham Herald about half of the patrol officers will have them right away and the rest will have them by summer of 2015. Each officer will be issued a chest cam and one mounted to eyewear.
A man, who obviously had previous dealings with the Bellingham PD, shot video of two officers not wearing body cams and called them out on it. One seemed camera shy and didn’t get involved, but the other one, identified as Officer Jennings, seemed rather smug about not having one and claimed he will not be getting one. Perhaps his boss, Chief Cook and the other citizens of the town need to know that Officer Jennings is not inclined to be held accountable for his actions while on duty. Bellingham PD information can be found here.
According to this article, some Bellingham officers like the cameras. The article does not say when officers will be required to activate those cameras but it does state that officers will not be able to edit or delete footage and access is limited once the videos are uploaded.
Body cameras are a great tool for holding police accountable, but as we’ve seen so many times, they “malfunction” or conveniently were not turned on during serious use of force incidents. Eventually body cameras for police will become widespread but we still need to hold them accountable with our own videos because police that control their videos and investigate themselves cannot be trusted to release the videos most damning to their officers and their departments.