BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Police Department’s body camera program launched Monday after repeated delays by the city’s largest police union.
The six-month pilot program began as scheduled and without a hitch, department spokeswoman Myeshia Henderson said.
One hundred rank-and-file officers, chosen by a department consultant, and eight volunteers, who are members of the department’s command staff, are participating. The officers represent a racial and gender cross-section of the department and are assigned to divergent areas of the city.
The program was delayed while the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association negotiated with the city over the terms of an agreement for 100 officers in the 2,140-member department to wear cameras.
An agreement reached in July called for officers to volunteer. When none did, police Commissioner William Evans ordered officers to wear them. The union went to court seeking an injunction, saying Evans had violated the agreement.
A judge ruled on Friday that Evans has the authority to order officers to wear cameras.
Evans, following the judge’s ruling, said in a statement, “I remain committed to working with the BPPA and their members to ensure a smooth implementation of the program.”
Union leaders say they agree with the program’s intent but wanted further negotiations.
“The BPPA is still committed to working with the city and the department to make sure the citizens of Boston get a body-worn camera pilot program that does what it is supposed to do, while respecting the rights of citizens and police officers alike,” union president Patrick Rose said after the ruling.
Civil rights activists have called for officers to wear cameras since the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and other police shootings of unarmed black men.
Boston’s body camera policy says the cameras should be activated only to record interactions with the public in the course of an officer’s official duties, including vehicle stops and suspect searches before arrests.