(LAS VEGAS, KXNT)–A letter from the Protective Association, the union representing Metro police officers, tells members that under an agreement reached with Sheriff Doug Gillespie, officers will not be required to don body cameras while on duty.
The body cameras have been touted as a way of adding to police accountability and transparency in their encounters with suspects. In the wake of a number of controversial police-involved shootings in recent years in the Las Vegas area, Sheriff Gillespie himself said he would be willing to use them.
According to the letter from the union, the cameras will be optional, not mandatory. They would also be required only on officers hired at mid-2013. But as one critic–Steve Sanson of the group Veterans in Politics International–there is a hiring freeze at Metro, therefore no officer will be required to wear the camera.
Sanson has been a spokesman for the family of Stanley Gibson, who was felled by police bullets in a standoff at an apartment complex.
The American Civil Liberties Union weighed in on the news. Todd Story, the ACLU Nevada’s director, told KXNT the decision is disappointing. He says body cameras would ultimately help police, eliminating the contentious ‘he said she said’ when sorting details of violent encounters with suspects.
Sanson says he has personally observed the Sheriff promise to employ the cameras as part of his campaign to obtain a sales tax hike to fund the police department. He tells KXNT he watched the Sheriff consent to the cameras in appearances before the Clark County Commission and the Nevada legislature.