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Wisconsin Professional Police Association “Blueprint for Change” aims to establish body-worn camera grant

The goal would be to make them more accessible for departments.
Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 9:50 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The death of George Floyd and now the shooting of Jacob Blake have brought the issue of police reform to the forefront.

“It’s almost as if people feel they need to be in one of two camps, they either have to support the cause for social justice, or they have to support the police,” said Jim Palmer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA).

Earlier this year, Governor Tony Evers signed into law new rules for agencies using body-worn cameras, which clarifies training practices, how video can be released to the public and data retention.

“Here in Wisconsin it was not really clear how long you would have to save that evidence and how long you would have to store that evidence; and with 179 officers running around with body cameras there’s a lot of video evidence that needs to be stored,” said Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith.

Under the law, data from a body-worn camera would need to be stored for 120 days after it was recorded. If the video records a death, physical injury or officer use of force, it must be saved until the investigation or court case is closed.

These clarifications have Green Bay city leaders thinking more seriously about the purchase.

“We’re going to put that in the capital budget that will be debated and approved this fall. but of course that will be contingent on council approval,” said Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich.

Palmer says there is still flexibility in the law, and funding challenges.

“It doesn’t mandate how they will be used and it also doesn’t provide funding,” he said.

The association’s “Blueprint for Change” released last week address some of those gaps.

It includes the establishment of a three year grant program to support agencies implementing and maintaining body cameras, hopefully making them more accessible.

“It can really help resolve a lot of the questions people have about law enforcement use of force issues and it helps resolve the concerns people have,” said Palmer.

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