Lauren Drake, and the Columbian, have done some outstanding reporting on the body camera issue over the last year. When you sit down and read all of it you come away realizing that if we are going to have body cameras in Washington State, it will take the will of the people, NOT elected officials.
In November the Columbian reported that “Body cameras are not yet worn in Clark County” and later reported that “Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain said nobody in the Vancouver Police Department currently uses body cameras.”
Also in November, the Columbian weighed in on the matter in an editorial and concluded “Local agencies should make the adoption of cameras a priority, as the devices could protect both officers and the public. With activists demanding more accountability from police, video often can provide answers when eyewitness accounts offer conflicting portrayals of a situation. The use of body cameras might be imperfect, but the clarity they might provide in volatile situations would be invaluable.”
The Columbian was correct, but what has happened since then?
In February they reported on the fight in Olympia over body cameras. The article outlined the positions of the big players involved and their not very surprising positions.
Also not surprising is that no legislation was passed in Olympia this year mandating the use of body worn cameras. But the question is why is there no movement on something the vast majority of people think is a good idea?
Is it possible that progress in this area is being held up by union officials?
In this weeks article the Columbian quotes Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain as saying “this is something I see the profession moving toward,” but the Chief is later quoted as saying “but how we go about getting there becomes a question of do we have … agreement with the guild.”
Why does the Chief of Police need agreement for the police officers guild to mandate that they wear a device that is used to document evidence and clear those same officers from false complaints? If the police officers guild opposes the implementation of body cameras, the question is why?