Police shooting on Williamson Street sparks debate over body cameras
Madison (WKOW)-- The family of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was shot and killed by a Madison police officer Friday night, say the use of a body camera would provide answers to many of their questions regarding what happened that night.
"If body cameras are around we don't have this conversation because we all know exactly what happened," Robinson's uncle Turin Carter explained Monday night.
The opinions of city leaders regarding body cameras are much more reserved. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin answered questions from reporters during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. He told the media that he's cautious about the use of body cameras and is concerned about how they would affect the already troubled public image of police.
"They're very concerned about this being an inhibitor in regards to people calling the police," Soglin explains.
"There are significant numbers of people in Madison and elsewhere around the country who got reservations about body cameras. I'm concerned about situations involving immigrants and battered women."
Several police departments in Southern Wisconsin already use body cameras, including Janesville, Beloit and the Wisconsin Dells. Madison is still considering them at this time. The Madison Police Department executed their own study internally.
Chief Koval says recent estimates show body cameras would cost nearly $900,000 for the Madison Police Department. That includes the purchase of more than 300 cameras as well as the creation of a system that can monitor and maintain all of the footage. Officials say the footage is typically managed by an outside agency that can insure no one within a department has the opportunity to tamper with the footage.
Madison alders are now looking for an outside agency to lead the study that will become a major influence on their decision. They are hoping to learn more about the cameras themselves and the ethical concerns that come along with them.
Mayor Soglin says while this recent incident involving Robinson is tragic, it shouldn't sway or rush the city's decision regarding body cameras.
"If we're going to do it right, I think there's agreement that we can't be sloppy and rush this," Soglin explains.
He says the common council will continue with their plans of conducting an independent study. Alders are hoping to have the results back this Summer so that if they do decide to purchase body cameras they can include the purchase in their 2016 budget.
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