Edmonds police launch pilot body-camera program

Officers Ashley Vickand Will Morris wearing the body cameras — the small square black box on the chest. (Photos courtesy Edmonds Police Department)

The Edmonds Police Department on Wednesday launched a pilot body-camera program involving 10 officers and two patrol vehicles.

According to Acting Assistant Chief Josh McClure, the officers will be equipped with the cameras and wear them while on duty. They will also primarily be driving vehicles equipped with in-car audio-video recording systems to include the rear passenger compartment coverage.

K9 Sgt. Jason Robinson points to the dash cam in his patrol vehicle.

The pilot program will last for 90 days, ending on March 15, 2022. Full program implementation was requested as part of the city’s 2022 budget process.

The initial 90-day time frame will allow the department to see how the increase in video evidence affects the workload for officers and civilian personnel, McClure said. The immediate impact will be an increase in the time it takes to prepare requests for public disclosure, since there are strict rules related to redacting identies or information captured by the cameras.

The city and the police union worked together and used framework policy from other regional departments that have launched similar programs, the department said in a news release. Edmonds Police Chief Michelle Bennett was also able to add her experiences from King County, where she helped with development of the county’s pilot program.

“Body-camera programs have been shown to improve public trust, increase courtesy during encounters between officers and community members, validate evidence, and identify training opportunities.” Bennett said. “Adding another level of transparency is something we welcome, and the community expects. I believe that we can permanently implement the program but must also ensure that we have the personnel, finances, and infrastructure to support it.”

According to the department, while the pilot program will have ten officers, several more volunteered to participate.

Edmonds police officer Ashley Vick said the pilot program is “a significant opportunity to reinforce not only accountability but also a way to better connect with the community by providing a window into the job. Added officer Will Morris:  “The program will not only provide the opportunity to increase transparency for the industry but also to help bridge the gap between officers and community members that can be felt when there’s no way of sharing perspectives.”

The program’s project manager is Training Corporal Aaron Greenmun, who has been working on the program since early 2020. According to the department announcement, Greenmum has been coordinating closely with Axon Technologies to determine the department’s equipment and technology needs while overseeing staff training.

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