Tacoma speeds up body camera rollout in response to incident where officer drove through crowd
The Tacoma Police Department moved up its timeline for deploying body-worn cameras, in the wake of an incident in January where an officer was seen on video driving his vehicle through a crowd of people.
During the incident, 58-year-old Officer Khanh Phan was in his vehicle surrounded by people as part of an attempt to clear an intersection, responding to reports of an illegal street race. Video shows he briefly put the vehicle in reverse, before moving forward and driving through the crowd, visibly injuring at least two people.
Tacoma police vehicles aren’t equipped with dash cams and Phan was not wearing a body camera, having not been included in the initial group of officers who had been part of the early phases of the rollout.
While the incident remains under investigation — and likely will for several more weeks — the city saw fit to speed up the process for distributing body cameras. Initially, it had aimed to have 255 cameras deployed by the end of March. Now, the city is now on schedule to finish passing them out a month early, with Mayor Victoria Woodards pointing toward the incident with Officer Phan as the primary reason for that shift.
“That incident did force us to look at our schedule and see if we could move it up,” she told KNKX.
As of late last week, the TPD had deployed 222 total 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.”
Phan is on administrative leave pending the completion of the Pierce County Force Investigation Team’s review.