Walsh, Evans: Police body cameras not the solution

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Walsh, Evans: Police body cameras not the solution

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
By: Chris Villani

Boston police Commissioner William Evans and Mayor Martin J. Walsh said they are open to a pilot program to put body cameras on police officers but agreed that won’t stop shootings in the city or solve community policing problems.

“Honestly, there are plenty of cameras out there right now,” Evans said during a joint appearance today with Walsh on Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” show. “Everyone has a cell phone, we are continuously being videotaped and I don’t think we should be paying for the sins of what’s happening across the country.”

The Boston City Council will hear a proposal from District 4 councilor Charles Yancey tonight that would require both uniformed and plainclothes officers to wear cameras and record their interactions with the public. Similar programs have popped up around in other places as a reaction to some high profile instances where police officers may have used excessive force.

“I know this has been a trend and people think it’s the whole solution, but all a camera is is a gadget, that’s all it is,” Evans said. “The whole issue is the relationship between the police and the minority communities.”

Walsh said he would wait to see what the council suggests and said both he and Evans are open to the idea of a pilot program. He agreed with the commissioner that the cameras are not going to solve every problem.

“We are down in every crime stat but shootings — body cameras are not going to prevent shootings from happening,” Walsh said.

The mayor also stressed the need to continue to build a positive relationship between the police and minority communities in Boston.

“If you’re a black male walking down the streets of Roxbury, Dorchester, or Mattapan, you shouldn’t have to worry about being stereotyped,” Walsh said, adding that the police have been a part of a number of events designed to improve the overall bond between the department and the community. Walsh also said the makeup of the force is changing, with half of the command staff being people of color.

Among other hangups, Evans said the cost of the cameras would be a big issue for him.

“It’s $2 million to start up and another $2 or $3 million to maintain,” he said. “I think we can be doing a lot better things with that money like helping kids get jobs, getting them opportunities.”