ST. LOUIS (AP) — Eight police departments in St. Louis County are joining forces to equip about 260 officers with body cameras.
Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Chief Jeremy Ihler told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the departments were awarded a $400,000 federal grant to pay for the devices. The departments are working together to help smaller departments control costs and storage prices beyond the life of the grant, he said.
Police departments in Brentwood, Bridgeton, Clayton, and at the University of Missouri-St. Louis are among the agencies that are partnering with Bellefontaine Neighbors.
Many officials called for body cameras after protests following the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson as a way to build trust and reduce use-of-force complaints.
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The Regional Justice Information System Commission is overseeing the initiative and will manage the video collected by the eight departments, said former St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom.
The cost of video storage is often too expensive for small departments, but the commission is offering lower costs to multiple agencies through economies of scale, Isom said.
“Body-worn cameras are one of the hottest topics in law enforcement, and it makes sense that we should figure out how to assist law enforcement in this space and make it easier,” he said.
The departments will choose one vendor for body cameras, but each department will be able to select the type of body camera it wants to use. The cameras mount on varying parts of an officer’s body, from eyeglasses to collars to the center of a shirt.
Ihler hopes to see all departments outfitted with the new cameras by September.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com