Arizona state troopers are on track to get body cameras
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Money for body cameras for the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s 1,200 officers may finally get approved.
DPS is the largest police agency in Arizona that does not wear bodycams.
There is widespread support for the cameras — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called for them last year — but the measure was held up because of the pandemic.
“I think it will be in the final budget,” said Diego Rodriguez, a Phoenix Democrat and a member of the Criminal Justice Reform committee as well as the Judiciary committee. “Some form of the DPS camera proposal will be in the final budget.”
State House Bill 2461 provides the funding for the body cameras, $1.5 million a year for five years.
However, another bill, HB2893, gives the department wide latitude on when or if the video from the cameras gets released.
That’s a concern for Rodriguez.
“The language really is so broadly written that it leaves the discretion of when and how to release footage entirely up to DPS,” he said.
He says even with support, the bills have not been given the consideration they should have.
“We did not have hearings on this bill,” he said. It’s being done at the last minute, it looks sloppy because it is sloppy.”
He believes the video is in the public’s best interest and not the state’s interest.
“This is evidence that is being collected by a public official using equipment that will be paid for by public tax dollars,” he said. “These are public records.”
He said he believes the video from the cameras is “evidence of perhaps misconduct or criminal activity.”
There has been a nationwide call to reform police practices following the death of George Floyd a year ago Tuesday, May 25.
It’s one of the reasons the Pima County Sheriff’s Department finally dropped opposition to body cameras for its deputies.
“I want to know did my deputy do right and by looking at the technologies available I can go back and see that,” said Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos. “Why would I not want that.”
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