Wauwatosa police officers could have body cams by end of 2020

The Wauwatosa Police Department could have body cameras fully implemented by the end of 2020. But the city's mayor said the cost of the devices might be double what was originally estimated. 

During Thursday night's Police and Fire Commission meeting, Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber told commission members his department has been narrowing choices for body cameras. 

Wauwatosa Police Department

Wauwatosa Police Department

"We've tested body cameras out," Chief Weber said. "We are prepared to make a recommendation."

The police department will soon seek the approval of the city council. Mayor Dennis McBride said his signature will be the final step in the process.

Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride

Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride

"The public wants it, the police department wants it, the Common Council and I want body cameras," McBride said.

The mayor said body cameras are costly -- and choosing the right one is not easy.

"I think people think, oh, it's just a little camera. You can buy one on Amazon or something. But it is much more complicated than that," McBridge said. "You have to buy the equipment. It has to be rugged because sometimes you have difficult situations."

Wauwatosa Police Department

Wauwatosa Police Department

McBride said the cost was originally estimated at around $550,000 over a five-year period. But now, the cost is looking closer to $750,000.

The mayor said the police department may also need to hire additional staff to handle open records requests for body camera video. He predicts there will also be costs for camera maintenance and repairs. 

"It may be a million dollar thing over five years, given salaries and benefits and equipment costs," McBride said.

Wauwatosa Police Department

Wauwatosa Police Department

The call for body cameras in the department grew this summer when protests called for the firing of Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah. Officer Mensah is under investigation for his third fatal shooting on the job. The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office justified the first two shootings -- while the third remains under investigation.

Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah

Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah

"Our goal has always been by the end of the year, if not the middle of January, we're going to try to have body cameras on all patrol officers," McBride said.

FOX6 News reached out to the Wauwatosa Police Department. A spokeswoman said the department has completed the research phase -- and is ready to make a recommendation to the finance committee. That will likely happen by the end of September or the beginning of October.

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