Richmond council approves purchase of body cams for police officers

Richmond police officers began wearing body cams on Sunday

Uniformed Richmond police officers will soon be wearing body cameras after Richmond City Council on Tuesday approved the purchase of the devices.

Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus received the green light to purchase 110 FirstVu Body Cameras from Digital Ally that will capture audio and video evidence from his officers’ interactions with community members.

The small recording devices will be worn on the outer clothing of all uniformed officers, Magnus said. The video footage captured by the body cams will be stored at a third-party site and can be accessed for criminal investigations, administrative hearings and internal trainings, the chief reported in city documents.

This body cams will not cost the city a dime, as they will be purchased through the federal 2013 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG). The cost for 110 devices will not exceed $85,000.

Body cams are being used more often by law enforcement agencies, according to Magnus, who says they have proven to reduce citizen complaints, ensure transparency in police interactions and bolster community trust.

Magnus brought up RPD’s intention to begin using body cams following a fatal officer-involved shooting Sept. 14. Richard Perez, 24, was fatally shot by an officer during a struggle. The incident was only partially captured via a security camera inside the liquor store. Magnus believes body cams could have made the events that led up to the shooting less ambiguous.

“We are planning on implementing the body-cams by early 2015,” Magnus has said. “All patrol officers and a select group of other personnel (such as officers on a SWAT assignment or involved in serving a search warrant) will utilize the body-cams.”