The Seattle Police Department said Wednesday that officers will be ordered to turn on their body-worn cameras during protests in a departure from longstanding policy.
The new policy comes after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order requiring the cameras to be used during demonstrations.
The Seattle Police Department has been outfitted with body-worn cameras since 2017 but a longstanding policy designed to protect the privacy of peaceful protestors prevented officers from using cameras during the demonstrations of the past two weeks.
That policy was written in consultation with civil rights groups, like the ACLU, that worry body cameras could make it easier for police to track and target protesters, particularly in communities of color that have a history of over-surveillance.
“Effective immediately all Seattle Police Department officers who are assigned to work demonstrations where they will have contact with the public are ordered to have body-worn video recording during demonstrations,” SPD said in a statement.
Police departments across the country have embraced body cameras over the past few years as a tool to build transparency and trust with communities but the data on their efficacy is mixed.
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