Mayor Ed Murray is attempting to force Seattle's recalcitrant police union to equip officers with body cameras. In an executive order citing "compelling research" that body cameras can reduce use of force and civilian complaints against police, Murray is ordering the Seattle Police Department to begin equipping officers with body cameras starting this weekend.
“We have gone around and around and around trying to reach an agreement,” a frustrated Murray said in an interview Monday with The Seattle Times.
“We’re not there yet,” he added, saying that body cameras lead to less aggression toward officers and less use of force.
Murray ordered the deployment by Saturday of body cameras on all bike-patrol officers in the West Precinct, which includes the downtown area, and full deployment on all West Precinct officers by Sept. 30.
The department also shall “in good-faith” proceed with deployment on all patrol officers on a monthly precinct-by-precinct basis, the order says.
The Times reports that Murray initially planned to release this order days after police shot and killed Charleena Lyles, but "held off on the chance of reaching an accord with the guild."
The city has been stalled in negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers' Guild for years. Last year, the city and guild reached a tentative agreement on a contract, but the guild's members overwhelmingly rejected that contract.
The city council approved funding for the body cameras last fall, but said it could only be spent after the department did more community outreach about the cameras and the data they will collect. Earlier this year, over privacy objections from the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and others, the council lifted the proviso and approved spending the money on body cameras.