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Walsh 'Not Convinced' About Police Body Camera Implementation

Mayor Walsh at the WGBH studio at the Boston Public Library.
Ellen London/WGBH News

Mayor Marty Walsh says he’s still unsure about implementing a permanent police body camera program in the city of Boston, despite positive assessments from Police Commissioner Bill Evans.

“One hundred cameras is 100 cameras, 2,100 cameras is a completely different situation,” Walsh said in an interview with Boston Public Radio Friday. “Before every officer in Boston would put on a body camera, there’s a lot of work that has to happen before that happens ... so I’m not convinced yet.”

Walsh said the results of a preliminary study on the city’s embattled year-long police body camera pilot program will be released within 10 days, with more in-depth results expected within a couple of months.

Commissioner Evans has previously told WGBH News the only roadblock preventing the program would be the estimated $8 million price tag. According to Walsh, the cost isn’t the only source of hesitation.

“There’s been some reports, the New York Times did a story about three, four months ago, they talked about how body cameras aren’t making a difference around the country,” Walsh said. “They’re not bringing resolutions as far as confidence [in] the police.”

Regardless, Walsh says budgeting for body cameras will be discussed throughout budget deliberations.

“In the budget last year we put some money in there for the study and for the beginning of a program, [and] we obviously paid our officers who were on the street who wore them for almost a year now,” Walsh said. “We have an idea about if we were able to implement the program ... so that’s another step as we begin this budget deliberation here in the city, that’s obviously going to be a topic of conversation, about laying down the foundation.”

A more comprehensive version of the results of the study conducted by Anthony Braga, a criminal justice professor, and Jack McDevitt, director of Northeastern University's Institute on Race and Injustice, is expected in March or April.

To hear Mayor Walsh’s full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio player above.

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