CLAYTON, MO - The St. Louis County Police department could be equipped with body and in-car cameras as soon as this summer. Police Chief Jon Belmar said the money would be taken from the voter-approved Prop P fund to help pay for 600 cameras.
“Ultimately it’s really vital that the public trusts law enforcement so we work really hard on that every day,” said Belmar.
Belmar said the ‘extra eyes’ in their arsenal is something that was needed for a long time.
“It was a budgetary issue,” Belmar explained, “it was one of those things that we put in front of our voters for Prop P and we finally have the money to do it. It’s expensive. $5 million over five years.”
Belmar said that if the county council approves, the technology would help with transparency and accountability.
“It’s going to show interaction with the officer and the public” he went on to say, “and I think it should also be comforting for the officers to understand that while they’re being filmed perhaps by other people, they also have the opportunity obviously to provide context for this.”
While critics have concerns about privacy, current law restricts the access or release of video captured by body cams.
“We understand that we really do,” Belmar said, “we have put some things in the policy to where if it’s a hospital setting or a caretaking setting or if it’s a certain type of a call we are not going to engage that camera system.”
County council introduced the bill Tuesday night, however, according to a tweet posted by Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, she is requesting a committee hearing to discuss the funding request for the technology. It’s not clear when the bill may move forward before its final passage.