Community

Discussions about body cameras and police catapulted into the national spotlight this year after a string of fatal interactions between officers and residents throughout the U.S.

Last week, Mayor Greg Fischer and police leaders announced that Louisville Metro Police would seek to outfit officers with body cameras, a move that’s been under consideration since 2012.

The city is launching a pilot program this summer in the Fifth Division, which includes the Highlands.

On May 28, Fischer  will make his budget proposal to Metro Council and include in the proposal $2.8 million to fund the body camera program, which includes the purchase of the cameras, storage software and added personnel to manage the recorded footage.

The funding allocation is dependent on Metro Council approval.

Metro Councilman Bill Hollander, a Democrat from District 9, said he “very much” supports the program and hasn’t talked to any council members not in support.

“But, I certainly haven’t talked to everybody,” he added.

Kate Miller, program coordinator with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said the the organization is “excited” that Louisville is taking steps to have body cameras on police, and is also satisfied with many elements of Louisville Metro Police’s policies.

“I definitely appreciate where it is explicit where the cameras need to be on,” she said, adding that the ACLU of Kentucky has concerns about other elements of the new policy, such as the rules for when the body cameras will have to be turned on.

Louisville residents have a variety of opinions about the planned body cameras. We talked to people in downtown recently about the issue. Here’s what they said:

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“I have mixed signals about it, there are some pros and there are some cons,” said Sydney Harbin, 21.

“It’s about time they should do it, they should have been doing it a long time ago,” said Andre Smith, 27.

Andre SmithJacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Andre Smith

“When they think they’re being watched people behave better,” said Patience Peacock, 29.

“It’ll probably be useless with the money, it could be spent on something else,” said Delquan Standard, 17.

Delquan Standard (left) and Orand CollinsJacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Delquan Standard (left) and Orand Collins

“I really appreciate it,” said Cottrell Goodwin, 24.

“I mean it’s good to do it, but it’s not going to change nothing,” said Stephen Simon, 28.

Stephen Simon (left) and Tristan CappsJacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Stephen Simon (left) and Tristan Capps

“The body cameras they help, but you know, it’s still the mind of the person behind the weapon and behind the action. That body camera is not going to be the first thing that pops in their mind when they have a split-second decision. It comes down to training for me, I think,” said Triston Capps, 19.

“I think it’s a good thing, in a way, it will shed some light on a lot of things,” said Ethel Miles, 68.

“As long as they show everything in it’s entirety I think it will be a good thing. It will be a good thing for them and for the public,” said Deanna Jones, 35.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.