Not yet clear what policies might exist to direct review of FWPD body cam footage

By Jeff Neumeyer | WPTA 21 (ABC, Fort Wayne)
July 14, 2020

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) – An ordinance being proposed this week to city council lays out plans to greatly expand the use of body cameras by city police officers.

It doesn’t specifically settle the question of who will have authority to review the video footage.

The ordinance calls for basically outfitting the entire city police force with the devices by no later than the end of 2022.

Black Lives Matter protesters and citizen groups across the country are demanding more accountability for police, including more widespread usage of body cams to better document police conduct, especially when deadly force is employed.

Reverend Karen Staton with Faith in Indiana, a faith organization working for racial and economic equity in the Hoosier state, thinks body cams are important, but her group wants suspensions doled out to officers who fail to activate their cameras during traffic stops and other interactions with the public, and she believes officers who don’t have the camera on when using force should be fired.

She also says it’s time for creation of a new citizen board in Fort Wayne to look at body cam footage.

“This would be a board in mind that…is not appointed by the mayor and also would have the power to subpoena, full power to subpoena to just get to the bottom of what actually is going on. It’s difficult for police to police themselves,” Staton said.

“I feel like they will be earnest when they look at the detail, and that’s the other reason we’re working to bring along the citizen review board, so that we will have another set of eyes that will be able to help look at details when we have challenges or questions as to what really took place,” said Sharon Tucker, a Democrat member of city council, representing voters in southeast Fort Wayne.

Tucker is a co-author of the body cam ordinance.

We reached out to Mayor Tom Henry’s administration, the city saying it’s premature to get into what the body cam footage review process would look like now, before the ordinance has even been ratified.

It’s expected that the plan to increase body cam usage would cost about $1-million extra.

The city budget overall is about $240-million.

Jeff Neumeyer
Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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