Transparency concerns linger around buying Durham police body cameras

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The city is looking at giving officers body cameras

The discussion on the more than $1.4 million purchase order for Durham Police Department body cameras lasted well over an hour in city council work session Thursday.

It won't be up for a vote until November 21 at the earliest, but the process of transparency was at the heart of the conversation.

There was question after question about how, and when, the body camera recordings will take place and how that video will be made available under the confines of state law.



There were also questions about the cost of the cameras and video storage. The money is expected to come out of funds from assets seized through police forfeitures.

Mayor William Bell said while he valued all the discussion, he encouraged the council to take a vote on purchase order in their next meeting.

"I can foresee an incident occurring and we said 'Oh, but if we had the cameras, well that's a different situation,' so 1.4 million is not an issue for me, if in fact we feel that's the right price to pay for the cameras," Bell said.

Durham Police Chief Cerelyn Davis expressed her willingness to address the transparency issue.

"We will continue to be as transparent as we can within the confines of the law," Davis said.

The current draft of the general order police officers would follow in regards to the cameras is available to the public, something Chief Davis said is not typical for the department.

Davis said she expects there will be changes to the order as part of a growing process and said future drafts will be made available in the spirit of transparency.

You can read the current draft of the general order on the body cams here.

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