Wilmington council makes 1st funding commitment for body cameras

Police officers patrol Market Street in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday, March 26. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

Police officers patrol Market Street in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday, March 26. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

Delaware’s largest city has taken steps to fund a police department-wide body camera program.

The Wilmington City Council last week approved spending $400,000 to hire a police sergeant and three patrol officers to oversee the program, The News Journal reported. The council’s approval of that money marks the first budgetary commitment Wilmington has made toward body cameras since the police department began testing the equipment nearly five years ago.

Activists have long called for the equipment to increase trust between police and civilians, but the program had been stalled over what the mayor and police chief said were funding concerns.

Still pending is the city’s application for a federal grant that would provide $542,388 to purchase cameras. If the city’s grant application is rejected, a council member has said he would introduce a budget amendment to pay for the cameras with city funds.

A five-year, nearly $2 million contract between the city and Axon Enterprises Inc. for cameras, maintenance and video storage is also pending.

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