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Despite opposition, body cameras approved for Durham police

November 22, 2016 GMT

The Durham Police Department will get body cameras after city leaders voted Monday night to spend $1.4 million to buy them.

The Durham City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to approve the body cameras, but while the majority of council members supported the measure, two council members spoke out in opposition.

“I think that this $1.4 million dollars could be directed to other issues that would actually be much more effective in making our community safe,” said council member Jillian Johnson.

Objections were based on the cost of $1.4 million over five years and public access to the footage, which some say is too restricted because of state law.

“What are we doing if we’re buying these cameras, collecting this video and we have to go before a superior court judge to have any of it released? That’s not right. That’s not transparency,” said council member Charlie Reece.

Two Durham residents spoke out at the meeting, both opposing the purchase of body cameras.

“There have been many studies showing mixed data. While they have decreased police use of violence in some communities, they have increased police use of violence in other communities,” said resident Ran Barr-on.

Durham Police Chief Cerelyn Davis remained confident that, despite imperfections in technology and law, the body cameras will have a positive impact.

“There is no perfect program around the country,” she said. “These cameras provide a level of transparency that I have the power and authority to help support in the City of Durham.”

The funding council approved the purchase of up to 530 body cameras but did not say when they will be purchased.