• Seattle police get $600,000 from federal government for body cams

    By: Siemny Kim

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - Seattle police are getting $600,000 from the federal government to buy body cameras.

    It’s an effort from the White House to quickly get body cameras out in communities after a series of high profile incidents across the country with police and the public.

    The grant will help Seattle police expand on a pilot program that has ended.

    On May Day, 12 Seattle police officers wore body cams and they recorded the interactions as protesters and police squared off on Capitol Hill.

    Because it was a pilot program, no officers are wearing them now.

    In August, Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell pushed for expanding the program.

    “These cameras effective to build community trust,” Harrell said “Let everyone see what’s happening out there between the officers and the public.”

    285 departments in 42 states applied for the grants. Only 73 got the grant money.

    The White House issued the emergency directive to help purchase body cams after several high profile police shootings, including the shooting of Walter Scott by a North Charleston police officer caught on camera by a witness, Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Eric Garner in New York.

    “It’s the best strategy we have right now to have almost an independent eyewitness to that interaction to the police and the citizens,” said Jim Bueermann with the Police Foundation.

    The grant requires a 50/50 match with local funds. So Seattle will need to come up with $600,000 from the general fund.

    City leaders say it's well worth the money.

    “Given the lives that can be saved, I think that’s a modest investment,” Harrell added.

    Harrell hopes to have the cameras back up and running by mid 2016-2017.

     The other question that still remains to be answered is whether the unedited footage will be available for people to view.

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