City recommends body cameras for officers

Council to vote on deploying more than 200 cameras

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio City Council will vote on a recommendation to equip San Antonio police officers with body-worn cameras.

Calls for outfitting officers with cameras have grown in the wake of the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown -- both of whom were killed by police officers.

While many people feel the cameras make officers more accountable for their actions, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the devices offer more transparency.

"The cameras have changed behavior on both sides of the lens," McManus said. "It's not all about officer accountability, it's about the interactions that occur between police officers and citizens."

McManus wants to deploy 210 cameras within the department's downtown patrol and park police units. Officers in both units currently have no recording devices at their disposal.

Johnnie Moreno, who participated in the department's pilot program, said officers were hesitant at first, but wanted to wear the cameras even after the pilot was done.

"To know that when you've stepped out to whatever call, whatever traffic stop, that what you've done is retained was very good for the officers and was met with nothing but positive sentiment," he said.

McManus said paying for the cameras and the costs associated with their use could initally cost the city between $445,000-$1.6 million annually.

McManus said it took officers and average of 30 minutes to download the video at the end of their shifts, which raised questions about overtime pay.

While the council was supportive of the idea, some voiced concern over buying a product that could be obsolete in a matter of months.

"We want to be proactive, but I want for us to carefully consider the costs," said Mayor Ivy Taylor.