One community activist has concerns about WPD body camera policy

Wichita Police Department body camera. (KSN file photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – On Thursday, T=the Wichita Police Department rolled out its new policy that governs the use of body cameras that will be worn by officers. WPD expects to have all of the more than 400 officers on the streets outfitted with the cameras by the end of the year.

Part of the process of developing the policy was seeking out community input. One organization at the table in that process was Sunflower Community Action.

KSN spoke with Sunflower Community Action’s leader Djuan Wash. He said the sentiment is pretty much the same from everyone: Yes, they are happy all WPD officers will finally be outfitted with body cameras. However, they think the department failed to make its policy transparent enough to benefit everybody.

When the city released its nine-page body camera policy Thursday morning, it promised to be as transparent as possible.

However, not everyone agrees the city did everything it could to back that up.

“We’re not exactly happy with the body camera policy as it is,” said Djuan Wash with Sunflower Community Action. “It’s not as transparent as we’d like it to be.”

Policy detailing the operation use and training, issues of privacy for the victims and witnesses and information about viewing and releasing video also pose some concerns for Wash.

“In situations where video is involved in a criminal investigation, those videos won’t be released to the public,” said Wash.

And the videos that can be released come with a price tag.

“The cost of receiving the footage, the $35 fee, $50 if any redaction is necessary, starting cost, so it really has the potential to cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars,” said Wash.

Wash also says there are plenty of situations where it proves beneficial where they would release that footage.

“You take the John Paul Quintero, the 911 tapes were almost immediately released,” said Wash. “You know, you take the police press briefings, they go into detail about certain situations, and we are hopeful the city would back that up with the footage.”

Community members like Wash are pleased with the implementation of body cameras by the police department and happy that all officers will be equipped with them.

Wash is hopeful that further down the road changes will be made to make this policy and process more transparent.

To view the new body camera policy, click here.

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