Both the mayor and the police commissioner questioned the value of making Boston cops wear body cameras, but for very different reasons.
Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner Bill Evans responded Wednesday to to a proposal by City Councilor Charles Yancey to require BPD cops to don body cameras.
Evans said the proliferation of cell phone cameras makes police body cameras unnecessary.
"Honestly, there are plenty of cameras out there now,” Evans said in an interview with Boston Herald Radio. “Everyone has a cell phone."
But, he added, “We see instances where video evidence is crucial. The incident in Chelsea [where a Chelsea cop was charged with punching a handcuffed man and then falsifying a report] comes to mind.”
Walsh said that he is open to the idea of body cameras, but questions their effectiveness.
“Body cameras are not going to prevent shootings from happening,” Walsh said in an interview with the Herald. Walsh was initially against the idea of body cameras, but is shifting towards a more open stance.
Both he and Evans said they are weighing the pros and cons of equipping officers with cameras.
Still, Walsh does not see cameras as a way to bridge the rift between police and the public after a series of police-involved deaths roiled the nation.
“That whole issue of the gadget fixing the relationship with communities is overblown," Evans said. “I don't think we should be paying for the sins across the country."
Evans said that improving face to face relationships with members of the community, especially young children, is far more important than cameras in order to earn the community's trust.