On May 5, 2020, the City Council requested an update on BWCs to include the Washington State Joint Legislative Task Force results on the Use of Body-Worn Cameras, current public disclosure laws, and an estimate of the cost involved in deploying BWC in the form of an issue paper.
On July 7, 2020, Chief Harris provided a preliminary update on research the Police Department was conducting on BWC programs.
On August 8, 2020, the Council adopted Resolution 5434 to improve the safety and respect of Black people, which included Section 2e: “Developing a police body camera pilot program.”
On October 21, 2020, an extensive report on body-worn cameras was completed by the Kirkland Police Department.
The 2021-2022 Community Safety Initiative budget includes a place holder for a BWC pilot program in 2022, the funding for the initial set up of equipment, and two full time FTE’s to manage the digital information and the public records requests.
The topic of BWC was included as part of the R-5434 community engagement process of late 2020 and early 2021. As directed in R-5434, that process included conversations with formal and informal Black-led community groups, Black community leaders, youth, and community members, and other people of color in a series of focus groups. Although not discussed by all groups, a BWC program, if done correctly, generally received strong support from the groups that did prioritize discussing it.
In July 2021, the City of Kirkland submitted a U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant application(PDF, 239KB) to support the purchase of BWCs. The City received notification from BAJ in December 2021 that the Department was awarded approximately $220,000 dollars to purchase the initial equipment needed to implement a BWC program. The grant acceptance deadline was January 31, 2022.
At the January 18, 2022 Council meeting, the City Manager highlighted that the City would accept the grant, but acceptance did not commit the City to implementing a BWC program. Certification of Department BWC policies must occur by June 1, 2022. In addition, the two staff must be hired by September 1, 2022 to comply with the parameters of the grant award. If the City Council chooses not to implement a BWC program in Kirkland, the Department will notify BJA of the decision and apply to return the grant award.
On February 1, 2022, the Council received an update on a potential BWC program and provided direction to staff on community engagement and policy issues needing additional research for Council’s further consideration of a BWC program.
Between March and May, 2022, the City sough feedback from the community on a potential body-worn camera program. This engagement process included discussing the benefits, opportunities, costs, and concerns of a body-worn camera program and also explored policy considerations for a body-worn camera program. Some of the considerations discussed include:
- benefits and drawbacks of body-worn cameras,
- who within the Kirkland Police Department should wear body-worn cameras,
- when recording with the cameras should occur,
- if and when recordings should be stopped, and
- under what circumstances the footage should be shared.
On May 17, 2022, staff presented the results of the community engagement process to Council, as well as additional analysis and research based on prior Council questions and direction.
At the July 5, 2022 Council meeting, Council adopted Ordinance O-4796 Enacting a new chapter of the Kirkland Municipal Code restricting use of facial recognition technology, and authorizing use of Police Body Worn Cameras. Many updates on timeline, community engagement process, and policy decisions needed for implementation of police body worn cameras have gone before the Council. Here is the most recent agenda items, ordinance, and meeting recording from July 5, 2022.
On December 1, 2022 body worn cameras will be disbursed to three traffic officers and the footage from each officer will be used to monitor the processes put in place for officers, records, evidence and public disclosure requests. Over the next several weeks in December, the cameras will be dispersed to the rest of the officers with an anticipated 100% live operation by January 1, 2023.