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Alexandria Police start rollout of body-worn camera program

Body-worn camera (photo via Tony Webster/Flickr)

(Updated at 4:49 p.m.) The Alexandria Police Department officially rolled out its body-worn camera program today, with the goal of outfitting 30 officers per month.

Full deployment is expected by January, and officers will immediately begin using the cameras after eight hours of training.

“The deployment of body-worn cameras is the result of years of collaboration within our Police Department,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “This is an essential transparency initiative and I’m excited to see it come to fruition.”

APD lieutenant Jason North is the body-worn camera program coordinator.

“As part of the deployment, APD will conduct comprehensive training for our officers on the proper use of body cameras, including when to activate and deactivate the cameras, as well as how to handle and store the recorded data,” said North, who is also chief of staff to Police Chief Don Hayes. “The department has also established guidelines and protocols for the handling, review, and release of body camera footage to ensure compliance with legal requirements and protection of privacy rights of individuals.”

In a release, APD said that the cameras are essential to transparency, and that they will “help enhance public trust, protect the rights of both officers and civilians, and provide an unbiased record of interactions between law enforcement and the public.”

“APD is excited to implement the body-worn camera program,” Hayes said in a statement. “We remain committed to building positive relationships with our community and continuously improving our policing practices to ensure the safety and well-being of all Alexandrians.”

Getting the cameras took years of planning, securing federal funding, and financial support and approval from City Council.

City Council approved $2 million for the program in the current budget, which funded five new attorneys with the Commonwealth Attorney’s office to handle camera footages. City Manager Jim Parajon’s fiscal year 2024 budget proposal includes three more positions totaling $258,000, as well as three “contingency” positions for $288,000 depending on the outcome of a workload analysis.

Last month, Parajon told City Council that the rollout of the cameras allows for the city to adapt to their use.

“Every time we add body worn cameras, we will have the appropriate support personnel to put a video and be able to go all the way through a process that’s been intentionally designed that way,” Parajon said.

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