Chief Barnes “optimistic” common council will approve body camera pilot program for MPD

MPD officers currently don’t wear body cameras
Chief Barnes is in favor of implementing the program. He believes is it’s about transparency.
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 11:50 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:55 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Madison Common Council is set to vote on a body-worn camera pilot program for the Madison Police Department on Tuesday night and Chief Shon Barnes is confident it will get the green light.

“Body-worn cameras are just one of the tools that police officers are equipping themselves with now, just like the tools you see around my belt,” said Chief Barnes.

Chief Barnes is in favor of implementing the program. He believes is it’s about transparency.

“It’s not what you know that gets you in trouble, it’s what you don’t know, and think is right and that will get you trouble. So, I want our community to know if this is the right fit for everyone,” said Barnes.

MPD has wanted to start a body-worn pilot program in the city and a one-year program for the city’s North District has been proposed to supply 48 body cameras. The Madison Common Council approved $83,000 for the program in its 2021 capital project, but the department noted city leaders have not approved the program itself yet.

Chief Barnes thinks some city leaders are hesitant to move forward with the program.

“It’s the fear of the unknown,” said Chief Barnes. “People fear what they don’t know and it’s something that is new for us. It’s certainly not new for policing.”

“We are a little bit behind the times. Eighty-five percent of law enforcement agencies have already gone to body worn cameras, 85%.”

Cost has also been a concern. But Barnes says they won’t know the exact price tag until they implement the pilot program first.

“I’ve heard all kinds of numbers of what this may cost, but we won’t know that until we actually sit down and figure out how much it will cost for full implementation. That will be a big part of the pilot,” he said.

Barnes says he’s “optimistic” the common council will approve the program Tuesday night.

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