Act Now to Help Madison Police Adopt Body-worn Cameras

by Safety Connection

It’s very likely that in upcoming weeks, alders will decide if the Madison Police Department will be allowed to adopt body-worn cameras. More than 65% of police departments our size nationwide already equip their patrol officers with body-worn cameras, and that number is growing rapidly. Multiple surveys show public support for body cameras at around 90%, and the vast majority of police departments in cities surrounding Madison already use body cameras.

Dane County police in Belleville, Fitchburg, Maple Bluff, Marshall, Middleton, Monona, Oregon, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Town of Madison, UW, Waunakee and other departments have already implemented body-worn cameras (some more than 6 years ago). And DeForest and Cross Plains Police Departments are the most recent agencies in the process of adopting them.

Many non-profits and groups that work with Black and Brown residents support police use of body-worn cameras, and the Madison Police Department welcomes them as a tool for 21st century policing.

But there is a small, though very vocal, group of activists in Madison who do not want our police officers wearing body cameras. They will write letters and show up to speak at meetings, and they are hoping that this will be the third time a city committee has studied this issue only to vote against it in the end. The money for a pilot program in the North District is already budgeted as part of the 2021 Capital Budget but has stalled out in committees.

The stakes are too high. Now is the time to write letters to the mayor and all alders and prepare your remarks for public comment.

Read our police-worn body cameras series to learn more about this debate, and if you’re not sure how to make your voice heard at city hall, don’t miss our primer on civic engagement 101.

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