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Funding for Arizona DPS body cameras was derailed by pandemic

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

PHOENIX – Arizona Governor Doug Ducey committed to providing funding to equip every Arizona State Trooper with a body camera during his January State of the State address.

“Incidents like these are reminders of the dangers our law enforcement face every day,” Ducey said, referencing an attack on a Department of Public Safety trooper.

“These are the good guys, and we should do everything in our power to protect them. That’s why our budget includes funding to finally put body cameras on every state trooper.”

All of that was promised before the state faced unexpected expenses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, Ducey’s executive budget would have funded the purchase of 1,267 body cameras for the department’s sworn personnel. Funding also would have supplied other agency personnel assigned to DPS task forces to enhance trooper safety, improve agency efficiency and promote public transparency.

“The governor advocated all session for this funding to equip every state trooper with a body-worn camera,” the governor’s office told KTAR News 92.3 FM in a statement.

“The pandemic upended the session and a very narrow budget was passed to prepare for economic uncertainty. It’s still a priority and something we’re going to be working to get into the budget moving forward.”

The conversation over the lack of body-worn cameras continues, following the recent and highly-anticipated decision from Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel regarding the DPS trooper shooting that resulted in the death of 28-year-old Dion Johnson.

“Today, I want to comment on that neither of the troopers that responded to the scene were equipped with body-worn cameras,” Adel said during Monday’s press conference where she announced no charges would be filed against the DPS trooper involved in the Johnson shooting.

Adel said the subject of officers being equipped with body-worn cameras is a public concern.

“While there are challenges associated with the costs and deployment, these are challenges that must be addressed,” Adel added. “When trying to determine when what happens after an event like this ending with the death of Mr. Johnson more information is always better.”

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