Olympia’s City Council has authorized the Olympia Police Department (OPD) to acquire and use body-worn cameras and car video systems in compliance with Washington State’s RCW 10.109.2021, which strongly encourages the city to adopt a resolution allowing police to use the same.
In a meeting on Tuesday, May 10, the council members unanimously approved a contract with Axon Enterprise, Inc., the weapons and tech company that introduced the taser.
According to OPD Interim Chief Rich Allen, the contract with Axon will cost $736,172. The services include base software, hardware, licensing, additional hardware refresh at the contract, live-streaming software, and installation.
“It is recognized as the industry leader in body-worn camera technology,” he said.
He added the police department will use some of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation to acquire the equipment.
The police chief said there would be a ‘bow wave’ in the future budget, leaving a gap in local funding, in 2025.
Councilmember Dani Madrone expressed concern about the continuity of funding,noting that the state’s mandate was unfunded.
“I'm sure many other communities are trying to figure out how to pay for it. But is that something that's being advocated for us or can we expect anything from the state to help us with that future bow wave?” Madrone inquired.
Rich said there are grants available in Washington and his department will be looking for some.
The police chief said that the entire department had positive sentiments about implementing the body-worn camera and car video systems. “We have many officers come from other departments that have used body cameras and are strong advocates of it. It is a positive step.”
According to Allen, they will launch an educational campaign for the community and get their feedback before finalizing the policy on public safety legislation, includingbody-worn cameras and car video systems.
The OPD, according to Allen, will include educating the community on their privacy rights.
In 2015 and 2016, Rich recounted that the community members were mainly against the body-worn cameras. “But the Legislature has fixed public disclosure laws. They have addressed a lot of privacy concerns.”
Public opinion sought
Olympia residents can provide their feedback on the city police’s use of body cameras by logging in to the city’s Engage Olympia website.
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