Oversight committee among recommendations for police body cameras in Tacoma

In Tacoma, the spotlight will once again be on police body-worn cameras. The police department, which is made up of a few hundred officers, does not currently have a body camera program.

In a study session on Tuesday, the Chair of the Community’s Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) Stephen Hagberg will give a presentation on its recommendations.

Hagberg will cover the vendor recommendation, body-worn camera policies and public outreach participation.

“There’s usually more than one police officer assigned to more important calls. The chances of everyone turning off their cameras is very, very slim. You’re always going to have somebody recording,” said Hagberg.

The program is expected to cost about $1.2 million in its first year and have ongoing costs of $800,000 a year.

Five full-time employees will be needed to manage technology and data.

In its recommendation, CPAC will also suggest changing into an oversight committee.

“It opens up the conversation as to what Tacoma, and the community in Tacoma, wants to see as a potential avenue of accountability,” said Hagberg who described it similar to Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability.

CPAC is comprised of 11 community members from Tacoma who represent its diverse neighborhoods. They are nominated by the Community Vitality and Safety committee before being confirmed by the City Council. They may not be a current member of the Tacoma Police Department or have an immediate family member in the force.

Jamika Scott is a member of Tacoma Action Collective which focuses on equity and social justice.

“I both think that body cameras are way overdue and not enough,” said Scott about her mixed feelings. “Body cameras are not the solution. They might be something that aids in providing a bit of transparency, but Manny Ellis was brutalized on camera. Police officers weren’t wearing body cams but there were two witnesses who filmed it.”

Scott believes tough conversations must happen soon and include the voices of the people who are the most marginalized to achieve the equitable change they are looking for in the community.

If you’d like to watch the presentation from CPAC on Tuesday afternoon at noon click here to find a link to a live stream.

You can also send your comments to CPAC directly by emailing them at CPAC@CityofTacoma.org or reaching out to the Tacoma City Council.