Tacoma Police to deploy body cameras to officers through early 2021

14 July 2020, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart: A police officer is wearing a body cam. Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa (Photo by Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Tacoma Police Department will deploy 20 Axon 3 body-worn cameras to training officers starting Dec. 14th, and additional 80 officers will receive body cameras in the coming months. 

Officials with the City of Tacoma said in a statement on Friday the new body cameras to be distributed on Monday to Patrol and Community Orientated Policing officers starting this January.

“We want to make sure that we have given our training officers an opportunity to test and evaluate the system for operation and effectiveness ahead of the deployment to our officers,” said Tacoma Police Assistant Chief Fred Scruggs in the statement. “We recognize the need for there to be no more delays in implementing this program for our community and department.”

Starting Jan. 4, 2021, 80 additional officers from all sectors and all shifts will receive a body camera. Phased deployment of cameras is expected to be completed by March 2021.

In the statement, officials said officers will be required to immediately turn on the body-worn cameras as soon as possible when engaging with the public while on duty. Officers have the discretion to not record to protect the privacy of the public and community of in which sensitive law enforcement information is involved.

“This is an important step for our Police Department and for our community in creating a more accountable and transparent police force in Tacoma,” said Mayor Victoria Woodards in the statement. “Yet, we also know this is a small step in the transformation we need to make as a City to be anti-racist and ensure equitable and just policing for all community members.”

City officials say the purpose of the body cameras is to improve accountability, evidentiary outcomes, and safety of and improve of interactions with police officers and the public.