The D.C. Council voted on Muriel Bowser‘s budget last week, but the mayor isn’t satisfied yet. In an email blast Wednesday, Bowser claimed that the Council “bungled” the funding for police body cameras.
Bowser wants a blanket exemption for body camera footage from Freedom of Information Act requests. The budget passed by the Council, though, requires Bowser to find another $1.5 million to fund fulfilling the FOIA requests.
“The Council took, took some more, and then punted,” Bowser writes in the email, available in full below. Notably, Bowser’s email doesn’t mention that the fight is over the FOIA exemption, only that the Council has required her to find more money for the body camera program.
Council chairman Phil Mendelson diplomatically calls Bowser’s email “a pretty amazing piece of word-smithing.” Mendelson says Bowser shouldn’t have trouble finding the initial $1.5 million to fund the program.
When police officers wear body worn cameras (BWCs), accountability is increased, police services are improved, and public safety is better served. That’s why President Obama supports their use, and that’s why I proposed spending $5 million to buy 2,400 cameras for MPD officers on the streets.
Unfortunately for all of us, the DC Council decided that police accountability and public safety isn’t a top priority. First, the Council’s public safety committee slashed BWC funding in half and sent the savings to pet projects. That is money that belongs to the police department. And just yesterday, the Council threatened the very existence of the program by requiring my administration to identify even more money before the program can go forward. To recap: the Council took, took some more, and then punted.
As Mayor, my top priority is the safety and wellbeing of the people who live, work and play in the District of Columbia. I am dedicated to giving the hardworking men and women of our police force the resources they need to do their jobs and keep us safe – especially as they work to beat back the recent spike in crime. Despite the Council’s bungling of the police budget, it is my commitment that your police force will be equipped with a bold BWC program in DC.
Mayor Muriel Bowser
Photo by Darrow Montgomery