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Norman City Council approves contract for body cameras

NORMAN, Okla. - Last week, Norman police fielded questions from citizens about implementing body cameras.

As part of their presentation, police showed training videos with the new cameras.

The City of Norman plans to buy 75 body cameras for officers and seven mobile units for patrol cars and motorcycles.

The Public Safety Sales Tax is paying for it.

The initial round cost about $750,000.

At the meeting, some people were concerned about when officers are actually required to start recording.

The plan now is officers are to activate the recorder when they believe it's appropriate, like on traffic stops.

"It needs to be on from the beginning," said resident Casey Holcomb.

"The ideal would be to say you’re expected to turn it on and you can make case by case excuses, but you can’t get away with very many of those, because this is part of your training," said Dr. Stephen Ellis.

"If they do not initiate their camera, when their camera is not initiated in a key situation, they’re going to have to not only note that in their report, but they’re going to have to answer for those actions and why they felt at that time it was not pertinent," said Norman Police spokesperson Sarah Jensen.

There were also concerns about public access to the videos.

"How are citizens going to be guaranteed the right to review this material?" Holcomb said.

"It’ll be really difficult to get these body camera records, and honestly Norman doesn’t have a very good record for being open with their open records requests," Ellis said.

A few others were concerned about privacy issues.

The recordings will be released through the open records act, and there is a long list of things that would be redacted, like situations where domestic abuse is involved or ongoing investigations.

Tuesday night, officials said the Norman City Council unanimously voted to approve the contract for body cameras.

No word on when the cameras will be installed.