Traverse City may buy more body cameras for police

Jun 15, 2020

Credit JJ, FLICKR

More Traverse City Police officers may wear body cameras this year. After the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis Police, the Traverse City Commission is considering spending up to $100,000 from the city’s general fund on outfitting their officers with cameras.

The proposal was brought up to commissioners at a meeting Monday night. Mayor Pro Tem Amy Shamroe introduced it.

“It’s kind of becoming more of a tool both for the citizens and the officers themselves to have that extra layer of protection and evidence gathering,” Shamroe said.

Shamroe says the $100,000 dollar price tag is just an estimate placeholder, as City Manager Marty Colburn expects to find a lower price for the cameras.

“I’m pretty sure it will be less than that,” Colburn said, adding that he can find a more accurate estimate by the end of the month.

Several commissioners said they liked the initial proposal, but wanted to see more details, like costs for upkeep and maintenance, before a final decision.

The demand for body cameras originally came from a group that organized a protest in Traverse City this month over Floyd’s killing. In a list of demands published to social media, they asked the city to divert funds from the department’s current budget to pay for the cameras, a point that several people also mentioned during the public comment period.

Traverse City Police Chief Jeff O’Brien told commissioners in their last meeting that his department welcomes the change.

“To be honest with you we never really had much pressure to get body cameras,” O’Brien said. “In 21st Century Policing, that’s one of the goals: that you should have body cameras.”

After another more research from the City Manager, the Commission will make a final decision on the purchase at a budget meeting on July 6.