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Alexandria City Council will need to find $13 million to fund body worn cameras for police

If Alexandria Police are going to be outfitted with body worn cameras, then City Council is going to have to find $13 million in the upcoming budget.

The program would cost $12.9 million over six years and would work incrementally, with 110 officers getting the cameras in the first year, 110 officers in the second year and a total of 325 officers wearing them by the third year.

Police Chief Michael L Brown said he supports them.

“The real issue has been the cost to the city,” Brown told West End residents in a Zoom call last week. “I’ve been an advocate of the body worn cameras. Many of the officers want the body worn cameras… It’s a good public policing practice. So, we’re really looking forward, if we can, to getting those.”

City Council adopted a resolution last summer stating that “the City of Alexandria and all government officials have a duty to ensure the protection of all communities through actions and reform, including in the justice system.”

Council then directed city staff to develop a proposal for body worn cameras.

Mayor Justin Wilson also wants body worn cameras, but has a few other priorities that he wants to get funded, such as free ridership on all DASH buses. That proposal alone will cost about $2 million, and Wilson will be rolling it out in the coming days.

“I am a supporter of body worn cameras and believe we need to make them happen,” Wilson told ALXnow. “Whether this is the year will be the subject of our budget deliberations over the next few weeks.”

City Councilman John Taylor Chapman is hearing mixed messages from the community on the issue.

“I’ve thought about it in the past, but I’m hearing mixed messages from the community as to whether it should be included in a near-term budget,” he said. “There is the entire ‘defund the police’ movement and adding body worn cameras gives extra funding to law enforcement.”

City Manager Mark Jinks has included the cameras as a line item in his is fiscal year 2022 budget. He is asking Council to approve $62.7 million in the police department’s budget, a 3% decrease, or a $2.1 million reduction over last year. Under the proposal, police would defer replacing 20 vehicles, reallocate administrative support, and reduce non-personnel expenditures and overtime expenses.

Below is a chart detailing the costs of body worn cameras.

Photo via Tony Webster/Flickr

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