Body Cameras | St. Louis Public Radio

Body Cameras

St. Louis County Police car
Paul Sableman | Flickr

St. Louis County police are a step closer to using body and dashboard cameras on a full-time basis.

The department on Tuesday officially asked companies to submit bids for 350 dashboard and 120 body cameras. Companies have until May 4 to respond.

A protester stands in front of a line of St. Louis Police officers on Sept. 15, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As the days of demonstrations over Jason Stockley’s acquittal go on, protesters in St. Louis are outlining the policy changes they say will help create a more equitable justice system and police department.

The main demands involve giving St. Louis and St. Louis County police additional training, equipment and oversight — things that were proposed after a Ferguson officer shot Michael Brown in 2014 but never enacted. That’s because most bills required changes to state law, and the GOP-controlled General Assembly didn’t go for it.

Anthony Lamar Smith's mother, Annie Smith (center), watches a meeting of the St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment. Smith's son was killed in 2011 by former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ top elected officials said Wednesday they support a company’s offer to supply free body camera for police officers. But it’s not a sure thing that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will use them permanently.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed approved a proposal from Axon, formerly called Taser, to provide police officers with the cameras. In April, Axon said it would offer body cameras to all police departments for a year for free.

The three officials also voted to request bids from companies that would permanently supply the devices.

Sharon Carpenter, St. Louis recorder of deeds,  spent several decades as a Democratic committeewoman for the 23rd Ward.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Recorder of Deeds office is in the crosshairs in Tuesday’s election, when voters will have to decide whether to eliminate the agency, which maintains public records, and put any money saved toward body cameras for police.

Ferguson police officers record protesters on W. Florissant Avenue on Aug. 9, 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Shortly after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014, the department’s on-duty officers started wearing body cameras while on duty. And the federal government’s consent decree, which came in response to Brown’s death, mandated Ferguson officers wear them.

But a group of Ferguson residents wants to put the use of cameras into the city charter as a means of ensuring it continues long after federal oversight is over.

s_falkow | Flickr

Gov. Jay Nixon has signed a wide-ranging bill into law that contains language limiting the release of video recorded by police cameras.

Senate Bill 732 mandates that video recorded by cameras mounted on police cars or any other device carried by an officer, including body cameras, to be a closed record under Missouri's open records law.  It will also remain a closed record until the investigation becomes inactive.

Robert Cornejo
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Robert Cornejo to the program.

The St. Peters Republican is serving his second term in the Missouri House. He was a guest on the show about a year ago, after one of the wildest ends to a legislative session in recent history.

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

With only three days to go, a few bigger issues have been moving in the Missouri General Assembly, while everyone waits to see whether the Senate will soon come to a screeching halt.

First, the so-called "sequel" to last year's municipal reform bill is one vote away from being sent to Gov. Jay Nixon.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers raise their weapons at a preshift meeting 3.23.15
File photo | Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

Officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department likely won't be wearing body cameras until sometime next year.

A 90-day pilot program with about 70 sergeants wraps up next week, St. Louis Chief Sam Dotson told the city's public safety committee on Thursday. He'll then get feedback from the officers involved and the public, and decide whether to sit down and negotiate a camera policy with the St. Louis Police Officers' Association.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, speaks at a Wednesday press conference Lesley McSpadden. McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, wants the legislature to help expand the use of body cameras for law enforcement.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When then-Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, the policeman wasn’t wearing a body camera. And the uncertainty that followed provided a spark of sorts for programs to help law enforcement get the devices.

But Missouri did not pass legislation last year that would assist local police departments pay for body cameras – and provide guidelines for when footage is released. On Wednesday the issue returned with lawmakers receiving encouragement from Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown.

police car lights
Jason Rojas | Flickr

A Kansas City-area Republican is sponsoring a bill that would set limits on when police camera footage is public record in Missouri.

The bill would block access to body camera recordings shot in homes, hospitals and schools unless the investigation is closed and someone in the video requests it.

Police body camera guidelines raise privacy concerns

Jan 22, 2016
Wikimedia Commons | throwawaysixtynine

Updated 4:46 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, with a response from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

St. Louis residents don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their own homes under a body camera pilot program of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

We Must Stop Killing Each Other signs are posted on the security gate of a building near where Mansur Ball-Bey was shot by police.
Linda Lockhart I St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday morning, sisters Debbie and Darlene Ball were sweeping up around the front yard in St. Louis’ Fountain Park area. Several big teddy bears were strapped to a fence at the two-family flat where police shot and killed the pair’s nephew — Mansur Ball-Bey.

Debbie Ball lives in the flat where the shooting occurred. The incident led to tense confrontations between police and residents, the deployment of tear gas and the burning of a car and a vacant home.

A police officer is silhouetted against Ferguson's police department and municipal court building, during nighttime protests on November 26, 2014.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

A new bill in the Missouri House would restrict public access to police body camera footage.

In a vote Wednesday, the House gave initial approval to House Bill 762, sponsored by Rep. Galen Higdon, R-St. Joseph. The bill would exempt camera footage from the state’s open records law, also known as the Sunshine Law. That means people would have to get a court order to access the footage.

Logos of the St. Louis County and St. Louis Metropolitan Police.
St. Louis County website / file photo

Footage from police body cameras would be exempt from Missouri’s open records law if a bill moving through the Missouri Senate becomes law.

Ald. Joe Vaccaro (in yellow) examines a body camera during a meeting of the St. Louis Ways and Means committee. The city's public safety department hopes to purchase 1,000 of the cameras, at a price tag of $1.2 million.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The union representing St. Louis police officers is raising questions about the proposed $1.2 million price tag for body cameras for the department.

James Cridland via Flickr

Legal questions surrounding Michael Brown’s death and events in Ferguson again dominated the conversation among our legal roundtable.

Justice Department Investigations

The Justice Department has three roles in Ferguson, said William Freivogel, director of the school of journalism at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. First: A criminal investigation, independent of the state’s investigation.