Body cameras for Wisconsin State Patrol approved

MADISON, Wis. — Some Wisconsin State Patrol troopers would be equipped with body cameras under a vote Tuesday by the Republican-controlled state budget committee.

The Joint Finance Committee approved only a portion of the funding for body cameras that Gov. Tony Evers requested.

Evers wanted $700,000 in funding annually to pay for 500 cameras and to store data over five years. The committee approved $700,000 in funding for one year only, which would pay for 100 cameras.

Approval for State Patrol cameras came after the committee previously rejected spending $100,000 to buy cameras for state Capitol police officers.

Police use of body cameras has been a contentious issue. Civil rights advocates maintain the cameras promote transparency and accountability. Opponents argue that the cameras represent an invasion of privacy and have questioned the cost of purchasing the cameras as well as storing and retaining footage.

A state Department of Justice survey of 434 Wisconsin law enforcement agencies earlier this year found 63% use body-cameras and 73% use dashboard cameras in their squad cars.

Funding for the cameras was approved on an 11-4 vote by the budget committee, with all Republicans in support and all Democrats against.