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Phoenix mayor advocates for use of body cameras on police officers

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is calling for all city police officers to be equipped with body-worn cameras within the next three years.

In a joint statement, Stanton and city Councilwoman Thelda Williams called for the upcoming budget to finance the “resources necessary” to equip every Phoenix police officer with a body-worn camera within the next three years.

“As policymakers, our highest priority is providing our officers with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively and safely so they return home at the end of each shift,” the statement read.

According to Governing.com, the number of Phoenix police officers totaled 2,979 in 2012. Last year’s approval of Proposition 104 allowed the Phoenix City Council to hire 425 police officers with $16 million in additional funding.

A pilot program throughout the Maryvale Precinct led to a “significant decrease” in complaints against officers, more effective processing of cases in court and an improvement in evidence in domestic violence cases, the statement read.

If resources were allocated for the equipment, Phoenix would join the likes of the Gilbert Police Department and Arizona State University police. Both departments have equipped nearly all or all of their officers with body cameras.

Last year, Phoenix received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to study the impact of body cameras. The city was able to purchase hundreds of body-worn cameras to jump start the program in the Valley.

The use of body cameras has garnered controversy in the past year; Republican State Sen. John Kavanagh drafted a bill in 2015 to limit police body camera recording to criminal cases and use-of-force situations. Kavanagh later drafted a separate bill that would bar the public from videotaping police officers from 20 feet or closer.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has publicly praised using the technology, stating 700 body cameras were issued to his deputies in 2015. Arpaio called it the “largest deployment” of body cameras in the state.

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