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King County Council considering body camera pilot program for deputies

A King County councilmember wants to see body cameras on King County sheriff's deputies. Dave Upthegrove says most law enforcement he's spoken to are open to the idea. (AP Photo)
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A King County councilmember wants to see body cameras on King County sheriff’s deputies.

“I think one of the things that happened in Ferguson, Mo. was a breakdown in confidence and trust between the community and law enforcement and I don’t want that to happen here,” King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove tells KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz.

“I think the body cameras, if implemented appropriately with privacy protections, can help maintain, if not improve public confidence and trust in our King County sheriff’s deputies.”

The legislation Upthegrove introduced last week calls for a pilot body camera project in the King County Sheriff’s Department.

Upthegrove explains the sheriff’s office would actually come up with a proposal on how exactly the pilot program would work. He says a task force would also be created involving members from the courts, the prosecutor’s office, the sheriff’s guild and likely privacy advocates, like the ACLU, to help develop recommendations for the program.

“We would then get a report back in late spring, summer that has two things, a proposed design and scope and budget for the pilot, and number two, a set of recommended policies to address issues like privacy, disclosure, and personnel issues.”

Upthegrove says the details are yet to be worked out, but he thinks the program can be implemented without losing too much in the way of privacy for citizens.

“We need to make sure we have adequate privacy protections. There are a lot of issues, but I’m convinced we can work through these. Agencies all over the country are working through these now.”

Most officers he’s spoken to are in favor of wearing the cameras, he says. King County Sheriff John Urquhart has also voiced his support of the legislation.

“Maintaining the trust of the community is my number one priority and the implementation of body cameras for my deputies will help to ensure that. I look forward to working with Councilmember Upthegrove to responsibly implement this new program,” said Urquhart.

The legislation has been referred to the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services committee. If approved, Upthegrove says the pilot program would likely be implemented sometime next spring.

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