Madison alder hopes Common Council will take up police body-worn camera conversation again

In November of last year, city leaders allocated $83,000 for the capital costs of a body camera pilot program.
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 9:45 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 10:26 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After a review of the Madison Police Department’s response to protests in 2020 suggested police body-worn cameras would have been helpful in creating the report, a Madison Alder is hoping the Common Council will take up the issue of BWCs again.

BWCs have been an ongoing conversation without any real consensus, since the police shooting of Tony Robinson in 2015. In April of 2020, the Madison Common Council created a six-member review committee to look at the feasibility of implementing police body cameras. This included District 18 Alder Charles Myadze, a proponent of BWCs.

“Body worn cameras are not a panacea in order to solve all police misconduct,” said Myadze. “But it’s definitely a tool we can use.”

In November of last year, city leaders allocated $83,000 for the capital costs of a body camera pilot program and discussed rolling it out just on Madison’s north side, pending council approval.

Then in January 2021, that Feasibility Committee formally recommended using the pilot program before implementing body cameras citywide. But in March a different committee -- the Public Safety Review Committee -- voted against it.

Since then, the body camera pilot program has essentially been left hanging. But Myadze hopes the conversation will start up again within the Council and MPD given the findings from the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s report.

“From the perspective of reviewers trying to understand the protests and be clear on how MPD actions may have affected tensions during specific events, BWC would be a very useful tool,” they wrote, explaining that the footage would have provided details about “moment-to-moment interactions” and the times when police used force.

“We have seen that with the murder of George Floyd, if it wasn’t for video footage we wouldn’t have justice,” said Myadze. “It’s important for transparency that we have body cameras.”

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