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Seattle Police Officers To Start Wearing Body Cameras

Manuel Valdes
/
AP

The Seattle Police Department is outfitting its first group of officers with body cameras starting this week.

KOMO-TV reports that about a dozen officers in the city's bike squad will begin wearing the devices Thursday. The officers were assigned cameras and went through training with them on Tuesday.

"The public will also know when it's on because there will be a visible light when they're recording," said Nick Zajchowski, who's managing the project for Seattle Police.

The department plans to have nearly 850 officers wearing body cameras by the end of 2017.

"If the community requests something, says this is what they want to feel trust, as a department, as a profession I believe we have to do that," said Kevin Stuckey, president of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild.

More than 50 police departments across the state have experimented with body cameras, but few actually use the devices daily. There has been widespread concern related to release of the video and privacy protections.

Both Stuckey and the ACLU question whether putting cameras on officers will actually offer the public better transparency into the department.

"We think that SPD and our city's leadership should hit the brakes a little bit and consider what should really happen before we make a step and a big investment in body cameras," said Shankar Narayan, technology and liberty project director for the ACLU of Washington.

The ACLU says there needs to be greater community involvement before SPD expands the program.