St. Louis City eyes proposal to equip officers with body cameras

ST. LOUIS - There is a new proposal to give 1,200 St. Louis police officers an extra set of eyes, as officers could soon be equipped with body cams.

On Thursday, Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed said that if approved, the one year try-out will be at no cost to taxpayers.

Reed said now more than ever there is a need to potentially add one more tool to the police arsenal that not only could provide transparency, but help protect communities.

"St. Louis, we are not leading the pack," Reed said. "The Mike Brown shooting happened here at our door step in St. Louis. Since that time, 75 percent of major cities across America have implemented body cameras and have done them successfully."

Reed said that even though St. Louis has the intention of purchasing body cameras, the money hasn't always been there.

"Funding being an issue, the approval process, and working out policies, but funding being the big issue here," he said.

Arizona-based company Axon is offering the free body cameras and software to any police department that asks.

Reed said he helped secure that free offer for one year at no obligation to purchase the cameras.

"It will make for a better, stronger relationship between the community and law enforcement," said Reed. "And address some of the issues and complaints that we get over and over again, and mitigate and decrease the number of lawsuits the city sees."

Reed said that the cameras are not a replacement for what is still the need for more officers.

"Yes, we need additional officers; we also need to invest in enrichment program services for our recreation departments, we need some major repairs across our recreation departments to address the issue of public safety within our neighborhoods," he said.

Reed said that if after one year the city decides it wants to keep the cameras, the cost to taxpayers would be $1.2 million. He said that money would be included in the budget at the beginning of the next fiscal year.

If approved, the process to equip officers would will begin in about three months.