By RICK CALLAHAN Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis police officers will be equipped with body cameras starting this summer in an effort that was already underway before officers fatally shot two black men last week, sparking protests, the mayor and police chief said Tuesday.
An officer shot and killed Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, 21, on May 6, just hours before McHale Rose, 19, was also killed. The shootings were not recorded by any police camera because the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is only now moving to implement such a program.
But events surrounding Reed’s shooting were livestreamed on Facebook, apparently captured by Reed’s cellphone.
Mayor Joe Hogsett said the city has been working “diligently” for 18 months to provide body cameras for its 1,700-officer police force. He said Tuesday’s announcement of the planned deployment was not “necessarily driven” by the recent shootings and subsequent protests.
“What the events last week underscored though is a tragic set of circumstances that affected our entire community,” Hogsett said. He said he shares the community’s “heartbreak” over the shootings and also the death of a pregnant women who was struck by an officer’s car on an expressway.
Police Chief Randal Taylor said the deployment of the body cameras was expected from July to September, and follows a pilot program last year in which about 130 officers were temporarily fitted with cameras. The department hopes to outfit 100 officers a week with cameras during the initial rollout, and plans are to eventually equip about 1,100 mostly patrol officers with the cameras, police spokeswoman Aliya Wishner said.
The City Council funded the $1.2 million effort in the city’s 2020 budget in October.
“We’re happy to get it implemented here as soon as possible,” Taylor said during the news conference with Hogsett. He added that he knows “emotions are running high in our city right now” and he understands the community’s frustration over the pace of the body camera program.
Indianapolis would need to dedicate about $2.4 million annually to support the body camera program in future years, said Taylor Schaffer, a spokeswoman for Hogsett.