May 17, 2016 / 7:40 PM / 3 years ago

Detroit OKs $5 million contract for police body and vehicle cameras

Barry Rizk, a Colorado Springs, Colorado police officer, poses with Digital Ally First Vu HD body worn cameras on his chest in downtown Colorado Springs April 21, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

(Reuters) - Detroit on Tuesday approved a $5.2 million contract to equip its police department with body and vehicle cameras in a move to make the department more transparent, city officials said.

Several U.S. states and cities have approved or expanded the use of body and dashboard cameras since August 2014, when a white officer fatally shot an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri, increasing public pressure to monitor police use of force, especially against minorities.

Detroit’s city council unanimously approved the contract, which calls for Texas-based WatchGuard to supply cameras for 1,500 police officers and 450 vehicles, said Dan Austin, a spokesman for Mayor Mike Duggan. Initial installation of 50 body and 20 vehicle cameras will begin next month with a full rollout to be completed in the fall of 2017.

“The most important thing we can have as a police department is the trust of the citizens we serve,” Detroit Police Chief James Craig said in a statement. “This new system will allow us to document every encounter our officers have with a member of the public.”

Craig said officers supported the effort.

Duggan said last August that he wanted all cars and officers equipped with cameras within three years.

Video recordings by bystanders and dashboard and body cameras have played an increasing role in documenting violent encounters between police and U.S. citizens in the past two years.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to review the police department in North Charleston, South Carolina, where a white officer shot dead an unarmed black man a year ago in an incident captured on cell phone video by a bystander.

Reporting by Justin Madden in Chicago; Editing by Ben Klayman and Bill Trott

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