Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Feds Boost SA's Body Camera Budget by $1M, Black Lives Matter Activist Has Doubts

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 8:18 AM

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Since late 2014, the City of San Antonio has been doing all it can to make sure the Alamo City isn't the next Ferguson, as former police chief William McManus said last year.

And that takes millions of dollars, at least when it comes to outfitting police with body cameras.

The Department of Justice will award a $1 million grant for body cameras to the city as part of the $20 million Body-Worn Camera Pilot Implementation Program, the city announced in a press release. 

That cash supplements another $3 million approved by the City Council in its FY2016 budget. The funds will help the San Antonio Police Department provide an estimated 2,200 body cameras to its police, along with providing training to personnel and establishing a storage system.

Interim chief Anthony Trevino said transparency and maintenance of public trust are the key to the police department's continued success as an organization.

“We're proud of our body camera program's progress thus far. Our testing and evaluation processes were successful and informative, and we're excited that our policy is being considered a model policy among our peer agencies in Texas," he said in a news release.

However, Mike Lowe, an organizer with the local Black Lives Matter group SATX4, told us he has his doubts about body cameras.

"We have been going to citizens to be heard meetings since the passing of the San Antonio budget ... we have made statements to our feeling about body cameras," Lowe said. 

Lowe disputes the assertion that the cameras will increase transparency.

"That’s where that comes from. In light of Gilbert Flores, his death was caught on cameras. Is it really the cameras that is going to bring about transparency, accountability and justice? Because no, we’ve seen it. In very few cases, even on tape, officers aren’t indicted," Lowe said.

However, Congressman Joaquin Castro, who helped increase the amount of funding in the federal body cam program, said body cameras keep communities safe and inspire trust.

“It’s crucial the SAPD has the best equipment possible to protect our city and inspire trust in the community,” Castro said in a press release. “Body-worn cameras provide accountability and transparency that save officer and civilian lives.”


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