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Commission approves funding of GRPD body cameras | News

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Commission approves funding of GRPD body cameras
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The Grand Rapids City Commission has approved spending to purchase body cameras for Grand Rapids Police.

Commissioners approved spending more than $674,000 on 200 body cameras over the next two years. A grant will pay $78,000 on the costs of the cameras.

The cameras will be in Grand Rapids by the end of the summer. Eight are already being used in field tests - the rest will be deployed by fall.

Grand Rapids Police will pay about $241,000 annually on the cameras after the startup.

Also Tuesday, the policy for how to use the cameras was revealed by City Manager Greg Sundstrom and Police Chief David Rahinsky.

The cameras will be activated every time an officer has an encounter with a member of the public. They can be deactivated under some circumstances: when it's approved by a supervisor, when recording will compromise the safety of a civilian or an officer, or when the officer is interacting with a member of the public in "an exceedingly sensitive or private nature." Examples of that would include: an informant of criminal activity; death notifications; interviews of victims of criminal sexual conduct.

The cameras would not be used when an officer is talking with another officer, or when they are talking with something they have a "privileged relationship" with, like their spouse, lawyer, or doctor.

The video files would be uploaded daily to an internet server hosted by the vendor: Axon/Evidence.com.

Chief Rahinsky told commissioners Tuesday that he's confident the policy, though it may be modified after experience, strikes a balance between transparency, protecting officers, and protecting the privacy of citizens.

Rahinsky also said that while some of the video will be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, anything tied to pending criminal or civil cases would not be release until those cases are resolved.

"What we capture does not necessarily require that it be released to the public - we have strong redaction policies" he said.

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