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SLMPD officers will be wearing body cameras soon

ST. LOUIS (AP) — City police officers will soon be wearing body cameras.

The police department expects to begin using the cameras by the end of November, Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards told the city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment on Wednesday.

St. Louis has been the site of several shootings involving officers and suspects in recent years, and critics have questioned why police in Missouri’s second largest city didn’t wear cameras.

The department signed a $5.8 million contract in June with the body camera vendor, Georgia-based Utility Associates Inc.

Edwards said it took time to implement the program because the process was far more complicated than simply purchasing the cameras and handing them to the 800 officers who will use them.

He said the cameras were part of a “very complex and sophisticated” computer system requiring technical adaptations to work with department equipment.

One element still being implemented will allow cameras to be automatically activated when an officer draws a gun or turns on a police car’s emergency lights, Edwards said.

Between Sept. 7 and last week, 654 officers and sergeants were trained on the body cameras and on new cameras being installed in many patrol cars, Edwards said. Due to coronavirus pandemic’s social distancing requirements, he said, only 20 people could take part in each session.

Training for commanders and detectives began this week.

Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, who asked for the briefing, said it showed “steady progress toward the final goal.” The Board of Estimate and Apportionment is made up of Mayor Lyda Krewson, Comptroller Darlene Green and Reed.

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