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More Mesa cops could soon be wearing cameras

PHOENIX — Council members are scheduled to vote Monday on whether or not to purchase 300 on-officer camera systems.

The cameras are worn on glasses or over ears to record interactions from the officers’ perspectives. After a one-year pilot program, Mesa found that officers wearing the cameras had 40 percent fewer complaints against them. When it came to excessive force allegations, the department reported a 75 percent drop.

According to a city council report, the cameras accurately address complaints of misconduct and drastically reduce false complaints and civil liability. The $1.5 million contract with Scottsdale-based Taser International would run from 2014-2018. The contract would distribute 300 body camera systems over the next five years. If approved, all patrol and motorcycle officers will be wearing the cameras by 2017.

During Monday’s council meeting, members will also vote on a controversial rezoning proposal. The council is being asked to change the zoning of vacant property at 6350 E. Main Street from limited commercial to limited industrial. The change could attract businesses — including a medical marijuana dispensary. Because so many nearby property owners have protested, city rules require three-quarters of council members to approve the change.