Indianapolis mayor seeks money for police body cameras

Indianapolis' mayor has proposed spending $200,000 to start equipping police officers with body cameras to record their interactions with suspects.

Mayor Greg Ballard presented his $1 billion 2016 budget request Monday night to the City-County Council that includes funding for the cameras. It comes about a week after officers fatally shot a 15-year-old carjacking suspect in a confrontation authorities said wasn't captured by any department cameras.

A pilot program had equipped 65 Indianapolis police officers with body cameras, but that test ended in July. Assistant Police Chief Lloyd Crowe has said only a handful of department cars have dashboard cameras and none were on the scene where Andre Green was fatally shot on Aug. 9.

Following Green's shooting, black leaders in Indianapolis called for the city to equip its police with body cameras and also look into funding for dashboard cameras for police cars.

Although the mayor's budget proposal includes $200,000 for body cameras, Ballard's office estimates it would cost between $2 million and $3 million to outfit all 900 of the city's patrol officers with body cameras. Ballard hopes federal grants will cover that cost.

His chief of staff, Jason Dudich, said 60 percent of the mayor's budget proposal is dedicated to public safety funding needs and includes funding to hire an additional 70 police officers. But Dudich said the proposal is just the beginning of a process during which officials will settle on next year's budget.

"What will typically happen is an eight-week process, where various committees of the City-County Council will have agencies and department heads come in and explain their budget," he told WXIN-TV.

City County councilman Jefferson Shreve said the body cameras as badly needed and he believes the city should purchase those cameras regardless of whether federal money is available to help buy them.

"This deal is going to be a go in my estimation whether we get the federal grant money or not," he said. "It's a matter of prioritizing that budget. Public safety is the biggest part of our budget, so the dollars are big but so is the need."

In Green's shooting, three officers — two of them white and one who is black — who had cornered the black teen near a cul-de-sac fatally shot him after police said the officers felt threatened he accelerated toward them in a car that had been stolen at gunpoint.

Those three officers are on administrative leave, and the department's internal affairs unit is investigating the fatal shooting. The Marion County coroner's office, which found that Green died from multiple gunshot wounds, is preparing an autopsy report that's expected to take several weeks to complete.

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