The City of Wilmington is finally getting federal funding for a police body camera program, after failing to secure it last year.
City officials announced Thursday a $630,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance to pay for the cameras.
The award is the latest development in a years-long process of getting body cameras for police in Delaware’s largest city.
Wilmington police piloted the cameras in 2016, but have yet to roll them out despite repeated calls from residents, advocates and elected officials to do so. Police and the Mayor’s office have cited a lack of funding as the reason for delay.
Wilmington City Council passed a $400,000 budget amendment early this month to create four new positions within the police department to administer the body camera program—despite reduced revenue as a result of the pandemic.
Mayor Mike Purzycki committed to finding money for body cameras in June after protests in the city over police brutality and racial injustice.
There have been several fatal police shootings of civilians in Wilmington in recent years.
The News Journal recently reported that the Wilmington Police Department’s federal grant application shows the Department hopes to use the cameras to reduce lawsuits and complaints against officers, to prevent protests, and to improve relationships with the community. The News Journal’s reporting also found Wilmington police hope to use body camera footage as evidence against civilians in criminal trials.
Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy said in a statement Thursday that once City Council approves the equipment contract, his department will implement the program as “quickly as possible.” He noted the process will include finalizing discussions with the Wilmington police union regarding body camera policies.