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Sep 25, 2013 9:23 PM by Sam Salzwedel

TPD considers cameras on cops

TUCSON - The Tucson Police Department is considering putting cameras on its officers.

They already have dash cams on some of their cars, but body cameras would be new. Other departments are already using the technology across the country.

TPD Assistant Chief John Leavitt said he is early in the process. He does not fully know what technology is available or what the department is looking for.

"There's an opportunity to go talk to other departments, and find out what they're doing, and what their experiences have been," Leavitt said, "to avoid committing the same blunders that they may have committed."

Leavitt did not know what Tucson Police might spend, but he realizes the actual cameras are just part of the expense.

"The real cost behind any kind of video system is the back end," Leavitt said. "It's the storage. It's the being able to produce it when press requests are made, when the public requests reports."

Leavitt also knows some people are skeptical about their rights.

"The concerns that people have about privacy are something that we're going to really explore during this phase of the process," Leavitt said.

Some people walking around Downtown Tucson are optimistic about the prospects of the cameras.

"It doesn't allow people to make claims that can't be substantiated," Chris Schumacher said. "So it eliminates a lot of his word against someone else's."

"As long as they're not the ones who are filtering, editing and everything the footage," Tanya Johnson said. "Then I think it would be a benefit to all of us."

Tucson police are requesting proposals from vendors. Dozens of companies manufacture the technology. Leavitt expects replies in the next 3 to 6 months.

Leavitt believes the technology is going to become extremely common in the next few years and does not want to fall behind.

"The city of Tucson has its own values. It has its own approach," he said. "And we want to make sure that what we do will work in our city. And that may be different than what they're using elsewhere. Maybe exactly the same, but we need to study it and understand it."

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