City leaders approving police body cameras

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane police body cameras

The Spokane city council will officially approve the purchase of body cameras for the police department Monday night.

The new body cameras are fairly small; compared to a whiteboard marker they are about half the size and close to the same weight. They also have several different ways to mount them. One of them is with goggles; you can clip it right on to your shades. You can also clip it to your collar or even right on the front of your jacket.

The cameras were developed by Taser Internationals. Spokane purchased the Axon Flex body camera, which has 130 degrees of vision and works well in low light.

"This is really one of the biggest steps of police reform that we are implementing," said Spokane City Council president Ben Stuckart.

Stuckart says the use of force commission strongly urged the department to buy cameras, but that's not the only reason they opted to spend $1 million in reserves on the new technology.

"Body cameras are the way of the future and I think we are one of the communities in the country stepping forward and implementing it," said Stuckart.

Aside from several mount points, the Axon Flex will record video before it's actually turned on and record video after it's turned off. Using a smart phone app officers will be able to watch video in the field for more accurate reporting.

"Once the video is made it can't be changed or altered," said Spokane Police Commander Brad Arleth.

The police department is still developing procedures on the use of cameras and how to comply with Washington's public records laws when it comes to releasing video, but it hopes implementing cameras will result in a drop in officers' use of force similar to that seen in test markets in California.

"They were able to show that they had a decrease in citizen complaints of officers over 87-percent," said Arleth.

The 220 body cameras won't hit the street until the second quarter of 2014.

"I think if you know you're being filmed you are going to act differently toward the police as well," said Stuckart.