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WFAE's coverage of the case of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Ferrell. The court case ended in a mistrial.

Council Approves Purchase Of Body Cameras For CMPD Officers

Tasnim Shamma

 Charlotte police officers will be adding another piece of equipment to their uniforms: body cameras.

Charlotte city council members voted to allow CMPD to purchase new body cameras for some of its officers.

One of the concerns raised by citizens at Monday night's city council meeting was how much access citizens would have to footage taken by police officers with the new body cameras.

CMPD expects the cameras to act as a supplement to dashboard cameras inside police cars. They also say the cameras would be used during routine traffic stops, arrests and calls for service involving suspicious persons or vehicles.

But the program is not without critics. Karen Jensen spoke briefly before city council members voted unanimously to approve it.

"It won't do any good at all to have these cameras if the police department and the city and citizens don't have proper access," Jensen says. 

Earlier this year, a judge blocked CMPD from releasing dash-cam video from the night of Jonathan Ferrell's death. Ferrell was an unarmed 24-year-old man who was shot ten times by a CMPD officer in September. According to state public records law, beyond basic information, records that are part of a criminal investigation are not considered public records.

During Monday night's city council meeting, Mayor Dan Clodfelter asked CMPD Major Steve Willis who would have custody of the video.

"Once the video goes into the system, it stays there for the retention period that's set into the system, so that we can address complaints, we can address training, we can hold our officers accountable for their actions, and train them better down the road," Willis says. 

Willis says it depends on the system they purchase, but if it's like the cameras currently being used by CMPD's motorcycle unit, officers will not be able to delete video. However, they can turn the cameras on and off.

The program will be funded with $250,000 from CMPD's fund for cash or property seized in crime busts.