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Tacoma Police Department ramps up rollout of body-worn cameras

The Tacoma Police Department rolled out body cameras to 80 officers on Monday. (Tacoma PD, Twitter)

The Tacoma Police Department rolled out body-worn cameras to over 80 officers Monday, as part of a phased deployment it plans to have completed by March.

The department first deployed body cameras to 20 officers in mid-December. The hope is to have 255 cameras outfitted once deployment is completed, with an expected cost of roughly $1.2 million in the first year, and then $800,000 for each year to follow.

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The cameras will primarily be distributed among 170 patrol officers, with the rest split among captains, sergeants, lieutenants, community liaison officers, school resource officers, animal control, and K9 officers.

This comes after a lengthy negotiation process between the city’s police union and local leaders, and a debate that came to a head following the death of Manuel Ellis in police custody.

Ellis died on March 3, 2020, from a lack of oxygen after being restrained by Tacoma police. A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, but found drugs and a heart condition also contributed to Ellis’ death. Officers involved in his death were not outfitted with body cameras.

The department hopes that its expansion of body-worn cameras will “improve evidentiary outcomes,” and “enhance the safety of, and improve interactions between, officers and the community.”

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