Greensboro City Council approves contract for additional police body cameras

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro City Council approved a contract to increase the size and continue the body worn camera program at the Greensboro Police Department at its meeting Tuesday night.

Many of those who spoke against the new contract are members of the Beloved Community Center. They demanded that the council not approve the contract for new body cameras because a new state law restricts citizen access to police camera video.

But many people inside the council chamber were unaware until the meeting tonight that the current contract with the company that stores the body camera video expires at the end of the month. The new contract continues the storage of body camera video and provides additional cameras for five years.

The police department will now expand its body camera program to more than 600 cameras, allowing officers to use them for both on and off duty assignments. Members of the Beloved Community Center opposed this saying taxpayer money should not be used while a new state law makes police video difficult to access.

According to police who spoke at the meeting, 46 percent of the first payment of about $470,000 of the total $2 million contract is taxpayer money.

"I would really hesitate an outcry to not purchase these cameras right now because you have just lost the absolute ever thinking about if it's repealed we would have no camera footage,” said Marikay Abuzuaiter, council member at large.

"I think that that's a flawed understanding about how change comes about,” said Rev. Nelson Johnson with the Beloved Community Center. “They think that change comes about through negotiating we think that change comes about when people are united, people are clear and their voices are heard and then the negotiation can be effective,” Johnson said after the vote was taken.

Members of the Beloved Community Center also asked the council to pass a resolution demanding state lawmakers repeal the law (HB 972) that makes police body camera video more difficult to access. A motion to send a resolution against the law failed in the council.