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Madison City Council creates police body-worn camera review committee

Madison City Council creates police body-worn camera review committee

Body worn camera close up (copy) (copy)

UW-Madison police officers typically wear body cameras near their badges above a front pocket or over the chest buttons on their shirts. Madison's City Council authorized creating a Body-Worn Camera Feasibility Review Committee Tuesday.

Madison’s City Council on Tuesday approved forming a review committee specifically focused on the feasibility of implementing police body-worn cameras. 

An amendment that would have potentially broadened the scope of this committee did not gain support from alders.  

“Committees in their description should be clear and narrow in their role,” Ald. Shiva Bidar, District 5, said.   

The Body-Worn Camera Feasibility Review Committee will follow the work of a comprehensive four-year study of the MPD’s policies, practices and procedures by the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee. This group was created in 2015 following the officer-involved shooting and death of Tony Robinson. 

When the City Council accepted the ad hoc committee’s report, the resolution alders adopted included a directive to create a new committee to study police body-worn cameras.  

As described by the resolution, the review committee will study the feasibility of implementing a body-worn camera program in the context of the ad hoc committee’s work. 

The feasibility committee will be required to submit recommendations on whether a body-worn camera program should be created and if so, how it would be implemented, by the City Council’s first meeting in January 2021.

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Members of the review committee will include: 

  • One member of the Public Safety Review Committee elected by the committee.
  • One member of the Equal Opportunities Commission elected by the committee.
  • Body Camera Ad Hoc Committee Co-Chairs Veronica Figueroa and Tom Brown.
  • Three additional members of the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee: Keith Findley, Greg Gelembiuk and Kim Jorgensen.
  • Two alternate members of the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee: Jacquelyn Hunt and Matthew Braunginn.

Ald. Rebecca Kemble, District 18, proposed an amendment that would have given the committee’s members the ability to address issues related to the implementation of other recommendations from the ad hoc committee report after referral from the City Council. 

“I don’t know why we would want to cut ourselves off from their expertise,” Kemble said. 

Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, supported Kemble’s amendment and said people were “overthinking” the proposed change. 

“It’s an opportunity and an option,” Rummel said. 

The amendment ultimately failed on an 8-12 vote.   

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The newly created committee will be revisiting an issue the city has previously discussed. 

In the fall of 2015 after a summer of exploring body cameras, the Community Policing and Body Camera Ad Hoc Committee voted against a proposal to outfit officers from one of the department’s five districts with body cameras as a test program. 

The ad hoc committee felt that the city should instead focus on ways to improve trust between the police department and the community.  

The MPD Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee reviewed 146 recommendations from the OIR Group, an outside consultant. Last October, the group released 177 of their own recommendations addressing areas of civilian oversight of law enforcement, the relationship between police and the community, mental health response and use of force. 

In a major policy change, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway included a position in her 2020 budget for an independent police auditor — a critical recommendation from the ad hoc committee.  

Also at the meeting, the City Council requested that Madison Police Department create a summary document of the ad hoc committee’s recommendations. 

The resolution asks for a “matrix” of information tracking the implementation status, responsible agencies, whether there is a fiscal impact, and relative priority level of each of the ad hoc committee’s 177 recommendations. 

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