Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued a sweeping executive order directing the police department to equip patrol officers with body cameras, one month after the absence of video left lingering questions in the fatal police shooting of Charleena Lyles, reports the Seattle Times. Murray acted despite stalled negotiations with the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild over deployment of body cameras, declaring that additional delays would deprive Seattle residents of a necessary accountability tool. He said body cameras lead to less aggression toward officers and less use of force.
The directive came a day before U.S. District Judge James Robart is to hold a status hearing on a five-year-old consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department requiring the Police Department to adopt reforms to rectify the use of excessive force. In May, Robart approved the long-awaited body-camera program, clearing the way for the city to begin negotiations with the guild. Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said, “We have received favorable responses from officers who have been involved in our pilot program” using body cameras. The body-camera issue received heightened attention after no video was captured of the highly charged killing of Lyles, a 30-year-old black woman and mother of four who was shot June 18 by two white officers during a confrontation in her apartment.