Madison city leaders continue debate on police body cameras

Madison city leaders continue debate on police body cameras

The Common Council Executive Committee will continue the conversation on whether Madison police should wear body cameras Tuesday afternoon.

In late September, the city finance committee voted on a police body camera pilot program. Three alders voted in favor of the program, while three other alders voted against it. Mayor Paul Soglin broke the tie by voting in support of the program.

The committee is recommending the city add $123,000 to the 2018 capital budget to invest in 47 body cameras.

District 9 Alder Paul Skidmore said the pilot program will help the city determine if body cameras are reasonable and cost-effective. Skidmore said the cameras will also improve police transparency.

“It’s going to provide accountability. So if there’s an action, you’re going to see what is happening and who is responsible for it,” Skidmore said.

District 13 Alder Sara Eskrich said a pilot program should not be considered at this time.

Eskrich first wants to see the results of an extensive $400,000 study that’s looking into the Madison Police Department’s practices and procedures.

“This is not a conversation about whether body cameras are appropriate for the city of Madison,” Eskrich said. “This is a conversation about whether the pilot program is the appropriate thing to do in this point in time in this capital budget.”

Eskrich said if the report recommends a body camera pilot program she will support it.

There’s also $125,000 in the latest version of the budget going toward high-resolution cameras to install throughout the city.

The Madison Common Council will debate purchasing body cameras in November.