City Commission approves additional funding for TPD body cameras

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 11, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The City Commission voted on Wednesday to provide additional funding to support the Tallahassee Police Department's body camera program.

TPD asked for an additional $158,041 for the program, bringing the total investment over the next several years to about $2 million. That $2 million includes grant money received by the department.

The funds will help cover camera technology upgrades that weren't initially included in the department's plans. Those include the "Signal Sidearm," which activates the camera automatically if an officer withdraws their gun from their holster. And, the "Conducted Electrical Weapons" battery, which automatically turns the camera on if an officer uses their taser. Typically, the cameras must be turned on manually to record.

City officials said the upgrades will ensure there are no questions left unanswered if, and when, an officer uses a weapon.

"(Using force is) already a very stressful situation. And it can be called into question," said Assistant City Manager Cynthia Barber, who oversees public safety. "So if we can put in some technology to remove that question as to whether or not the officer started that recording in a timely fashion, we want to be able to do that."

Commissioner Gil Ziffer said he hopes this helps improve transparency within the department.

"We're about to implement a pretty serious program that's going to hopefully improve the way we police. If this makes that added difference and puts in protections for not only our citizens, but also our police, we should do it," he said.

Staff will now begin negotiating a contract with Axon Enterprises, the company who will provide the cameras.

Once complete, all 410 sworn officers will have a body camera.

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