More Phoenix Police officers will be equipped with body cameras

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Phoenix Police chief Jeri Williams and Mayor Kate Gallego have both called for more body-worn cameras for Phoenix Police officers, in response to cellphone video of police holding a family accused of shoplifting at gunpoint.

On Wednesday, the department said more officers would soon be wearing them, and on Thursday, department officials gave a preview of the type of training the officers are getting, as the cameras begin to hit the streets.

The officers seen on that viral video did not wear body cameras, but by the end of the summer, about 1,200 officers will be expected to have them on, recording every interaction or investigation they're involved in.

Phoenix Police's South Mountain Precinct is officially equipped with around 200 body cameras, and it is one of the three precincts, of the city's seven police precincts, who have the cameras. In all, more than 800 cameras are worn by patrol officers and sergeants.

"Make sure that you guys are recording as soon as you guys get a call for service, any enforcement activity, or any investigatory stops," said Phoenix Police Sergeant Kevin Johnson. "Our chief is anxious to get these out as soon as we can, because that's one of the things the community contacts us with, and they want to see them."

It's taken about eight years to get to this point. The Department started with just 18 bodycams in 2011 before a pilot program in 2013. Six years later, the Maryvale-Estrella Precinct got a new batch in April. Sgt. Tommy Thompson said officers in the Mountain View Precinct got them next, two weeks after the rollout. However, two officers accused of using excessive force against a Phoenix family did not have bodycams on, on May 27, 2019. That video, which has since gone viral, was taken in the Mountain View Precinct.

Now, after every shift ends, officers will load the cameras onto a dock, hours of footage uploaded to a server.

"As the need arises, we have that data available and, again, it's photographic evidence," said Sgt. Thompson.

By mid-August, Sgt. Thompson said 1,200 cameras will be worn by officers, costing the city $5.6 million.

"If it means that the community the officers interact differently, then it's worth every penny we spent," said Sgt. Thompson.

Sgt. Thompson said the goal is to have 1,600 cameras activated by the fiscal year 2020. Cadets in the academy will be expected to train with them as well.