Vancouver police officers will begin getting fitted with body-worn cameras Monday as the department rolls out the long-awaited program.
Patrol officers will receive cameras first, followed by non-patrol sworn officers. The department expects all employees to be equipped with cameras by March 9, according to a news release.
Once all officers are fitted with cameras, the department will equip patrol vehicles with front-facing and rear passenger cameras. The department expects this phase to begin around October, because shipping is delayed due to supply chain issues, the news release states.
“This is a very important milestone our personnel have been looking forward to for some time, and one we know the community has also been anticipating,” Vancouver Police Chief Jeff Mori said in the news release. “The increased transparency, trust, and accountability this program will bring to our community is invaluable, and we appreciate everyone that supported and worked on this project to make it happen.”
The Vancouver City Council approved in October a contract with camera vendor Axon Enterprises Inc.
The cameras automatically turn on when the vehicle’s overhead light is activated, and the same goes for the body cameras when an officer removes their weapon from their holster, police spokeswoman Kim Kapp previously told The Columbian. The cameras’ battery life also exceeded officers’ shifts.
In December 2021, the police department cut short the first testing and evaluation of a camera platform. It then developed a revised request for proposal, which included additional operational needs and federal grant terms and conditions.
The city previously committed $3 million to the program and secured $1.5 million in federal grant funding. Mori thanked U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, and former U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, Friday for their help with the federal grant.