Police advisory committee recommends changes to proposed Tacoma body camera policies

VIDEO: Tacoma officers are about to get body cameras

TACOMA, Wash. — The Community’s Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) is recommending changes to Tacoma’s proposed body camera policies as the police department readies a 2021 rollout.

The committee, that will present recommended changes to Tacoma City Council Tuesday, took into account community concerns regarding proposed policies that contained “too much ambiguity with when to turn” police cameras on.

Among the recommendations, CPAC says the “default should always be to record” and that a “zero-tolerance” element should be added for officers who tamper with videos. The committee also wants the forgiveness period for officers who fail to activate cameras shortened from one month or 16 shifts to one week or 3 shifts.

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“Most of the policies were just straight forward,” said Stephen Hagberg, chairman of the Community’s Police Advisory Board, in an interview with KIRO 7. “A little lacking regarding clarity on when cameras would be turned on and whether they would be turned off and under what circumstances.”

CPAC wants to be able to review body camera video upon request in addition to recommending that videos be reviewed for bias. The committee could also see structural changes.

“Probably the biggest recommendation was there is a desire on the part of the policy subcommittee, affirmed by the committee as a whole, to migrate the advisory committee to an oversight committee,” said Hagberg, who told KIRO 7 those changes would put the group more in line with the Office of Police Accountability in Seattle.

Calls for body cameras at the Tacoma Police Department have intensified following the March police custody death of Manuel Ellis.

“We just want Tacoma’s final body worn camera policies and procedures to be transparent,” said Tacoma police officer Wendy Haddow, in an August interview with KIRO 7.

The city says 255 officers will get body cameras over the course of three months starting in January.