In the last two council meetings (January Pre-Council and Regular Council Meetings), a lengthy discussion was had surrounding the future of the Borough of Bellevue’s Police Department of which we believe the public should be aware. During both meetings the conversation focused largely on two hot button issues:
In this post we will explore and reflect on the first matter of debate: Should Bellevue Police be required to wear body cameras?
Debate surrounding this issue largely surrounded purpose and cost. Members of Bellevue Council and the Mayor went back and forth regarding whether the borough should invest in a new camera system for the police department and whether that camera system should be installed solely in police cruisers or if the cameras should be worn by the actual officers.
As most LiB readers are surely aware, as a result of the high publicized deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, many police departments around the country are having similar conversations about police body cameras. The theory being that had those offers implemented the use of body cameras, clear and decisive evidence surrounding what occurred in both of these incidents might have ended all debate on the matter one way or the other.
During the January Regular Council meeting on Tuesday, January 27, Mayor Paul Cusick expressed reservations concerning the use of body cameras because he feared they could be used in violation of individual privacy if the cameras are turned on when police enter a private residence. He would prefer the borough invest in less expensive new cameras to be installed in police cruisers with the option of body cameras coming at a later date. Members of Council seemed to disagree and advocated that, in spite of the higher price point, the cameras would protect individual liberties of both the police and private citizens rather than violate them. Council was due to discuss the matter in committee and the upcoming council meetings.
We are curious what the residents and voters of Bellevue think. Should the Bellevue Police Department begin the practice of wearing body cameras? Why or why not??
Party two of our “Decisions to be Made Concerning Bellevue Police” series will be posted tomorrow.