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Columbia Citizens Police Review Board discusses CPD body camera policy at meeting


Columbia's Citizens Police Review Board discussed Columbia Police Department's policy regarding body-worn cameras Wednesday night.

During the work session at Columbia City Hall, the board and community members discussed Policy 447 and potential changes to it. Board member Stephanie Yoakum said the board targeted three specific areas to the policy: retention, access and muting of cameras.

Yoakum said one of her main concerns is the amount of time footage from the cameras is kept for.

"I would encourage the police department to look at a variety of other cities and a variety of other industries in which 30 days is nowhere near sufficient for the retaining of evidence," Yoakum said.

She said she would advocate for footage to be kept for a year.

During Wednesday night's meeting, discussions included who should be allowed to view the footage, when officers should have to turn their cameras on, as well as general discussions to changes to its language.

The policy currently states officers must record "all contacts with citizens in the performance of official duties while working either regular-duty or extra-duty employment in CPD uniform." According to the policy, this includes phone conversations.

President of the Mid-Missouri Civil Liberty's Association Dan Viets said he would support officers being required to keep their body cameras on anytime they interact with the public. During the meeting, Assistant Chief of Police Paul Dickinson said he didn't feel this is feasible, due to officers working 12 hour shifts.

Dickson said the batteries of the cameras would likely not last, which Viets said he didn't find to be a valid objection.

"I think transparency and open government are a good idea," Viets said. "And, recording police interactions with members of the public is definitely a good idea...if there's no reason not to then yeah, let it run."

Viets also said he believes footage should be kept longer because it could be beneficial in criminal cases that take months or years to resolve.

CPD spokeswoman Jenny Hopper said the body cameras officers currently use uploads the footage to an online system after being connected to the charging dock. She said officers typically get in the habit of turning on their cameras anytime they get out of their vehicles and talk to the public.

Susan Renee Carter of Race Matters, Friends said she'd like to see consequences written into the policy for those who don't follow it.

"Whatever their disciplinary action is that's what it should be," Carter said. "If you don't have it turned on then you know, you have usually it's a verbal warning, then you have written warnings and further consequences."

Assistant City Manager Matt Unrein said the city is having ongoing discussions of purchasing body cameras that automatically turn on.

Unrein said the city will likely budget for the cameras during the next fiscal year. Dickinson also noted the department has discussed with Police Chief Jill Schlude about making the policy more specific.

The Columbia Police Department released body camera footage in March 2023 that involved a 2021 shooting incident after pressure from community groups to reopen the investigation.

The November 2021 shooting killed Quillan Jacobs on Fifth Street. The body camera footage does not show the moments before the altercation between police and Jacobs, leading to some community members questioning why the body camera was not turned on sooner.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Nia Hinson


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