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Jefferson City police body-worn cameras may cost taxpayers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Jefferson City Police Department is one step closer to getting body-worn cameras for its officers, but there are still some things to be done before a purchase can be made.

The Jefferson City Council approved the police department to apply for a grant for up to $180,000 to cover some of the cost of body cameras. The total cost JCPD anticipates for the cameras is $661,643. The rest of the money would need to be made up in the city budget or through taxes.

In the resolution approved by city council last week, a quarter-cent public safety tax was proposed to pay for the cameras.

"The rest of the money that would not be covered by the grant would have to come through the council process, so it would have to be budgeted or from a tax, that would something that the council would have full control over," said Lt. David Williams, Jefferson City Police public information officer.

Williams said the department has been trying to get body cameras for several years. The conversation has out-latest several different terms of city council people.

"Technology, like anything else, we realized that technology has improved over the years," Williams said. "Policing like anything else has improvements daily, we see it in our patrol cars, we see it in our other equipment, it's not something that we just thought we needed to have, of course like everything else, we realize that technology has gotten better."

The department has discussed internally what a policy for using body cameras would look like, but that information is not readily available to the public yet.

" Part of the process would have to be policies in place, procedures, everything from how the officer would actually turn the cameras on, when they're off, the download, who can control the download," Williams said.

Several local police agencies either already have body cameras or are also looking to get them. Columbia Police Department was the first agency in Missouri to start using body cameras on its full force.

"We consider body cameras to be a highly beneficial piece of equipment for our department. Some of these benefits include increasing accountability and transparency; providing additional evidence to aid in the prosecution of crimes; increasing efficiency and security in the handling of evidence; and the potential for using videos obtained through body cameras as examples for officer training," Columbia Police said in an email to ABC 17 News.

Missouri State Highway Patrol and Capitol Police have $4 million set aside in the 2023 state budget for body cameras. The budget passed out of both state legislative chambers and awaits the governor's signature.

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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