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Phoenix officers receive first round of body-worn cameras

(KTAR News/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department launched a program Monday that will equip its officers with body-worn cameras over the next six months.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson told KTAR News 92.3 FM that approximately 230 officers in the Maryvale precinct will use the equipment over the next 30 days to work out the kinks.

Once it is assured that they are functioning properly, Thompson said they will be rolled out to the rest of the 1,600 officers in the department.

Thompson said they want to use the equipment to help with transparency and “see things through the officers’ point of view.”

The Phoenix City Council voted in February to approve a contract that set the department up to receive the body cameras.

The program with Axon Enterprise Inc. is expected to cost about $16.7 million over five years.

Thompson said Monday’s move is a huge jump from the number of body cameras that were issued.

There were about 300 body cameras within the department, up from 18 when they were first introduced in 2011.

​Executive Assistant Chief Michael Kurtenbach told KTAR News that the cameras will hopefully prevent officers from making mistakes while on the job.

“As long as we are required to recruit from the human race, we’re going to be fallible,” he said.

“Officers make mistakes and there are times also when they’re in very high stress situations, they might not remember to turn the camera on,” he continued.

“Once we add these features, once they get used to the camera, then that will reduce human error and will automatically turn the camera on in certain situations.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report. 

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