Brewing budget debate over Seattle Police technology

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 9, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 9 at 5:40 PM

There's a brewing budget debate over Seattle Police technology.  Will new devices protect citizens and their privacy?
 
Seattle city council member Bruce Harrell, head of the Public Safety Committee, will hold a summit on police body-cams, small cameras worn on police officers uniforms.

But, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn wants to invest in different police technology.
 
"We will have body cams on officers at some point." says Harrell. "We are in the stone age in terms of not using this technology. I think the city will realize it's a great tool. The mayor doesn't understand that yet."
 
The mayor's 2013-2014 budget calls for a nearly one million dollar investment in devices that detect and locate gun shots. The detectors would be placed in Seattle's high crime neighborhoods.

The mayor is eying a different tech investment, nearly $1 million over two years for a device that can detect and locate gunshots. The "shots fired" detectors would be placed in Seattle's crime hot spot neighborhoods.

The group that was most vocal in calling for police accountability isn’t sold on either gadget.

"You don’t want the people who are being held accountable to be the ones with the switch,’ said Shankar Narayan, ACLU.

The ACLU will join the body cam summit but they are concerned about privacy.

"Body cams on police officers go a lot of places. like people’s homes, like people’s bedrooms,’ said Narayan.

There is also a budget proposal to spend $5 million to upgrade the current dash cams in Seattle patrol cars.

Instead of spending nearly $6 million on more technology, many think the money should go to hiring more officers. The mayor wants ten more cops on the street, the city council may demand even more.

KING 5's Linda Brill and Susan Wyatt contributed to this report.

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