Virginia Beach to spend over $6M on police body cameras

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Virginia Beach will spend more than $6 million to equip police officers with body cameras.

Speaking before city council Tuesday, Police Chief Jim Cervera said the cameras will promote transparency and accountability. Still, he warns cameras don’t always tell the whole story.

“When police officers are in real time, acting on what they perceive at that particular moment in time, sometimes a camera does not capture everything an officer perceives at that moment in time.”

The city plans to buy 450 cameras at $1,000 each over the next five years. On top of that, it’ll cost about $540,000 each year thereafter for video storage.

Cervera and his team have spent the past year getting public input.

“I do not believe we are late to the game, because I believe we are really doing it the right way,” said Mayor Will Sessoms. “I think we are taking the best of what we are hearing from across the country.”

A preliminary policy about when to record is already in the works.

“In our policy, an officer will turn the camera on at certain times when they are going to interact, when it looks like there is going to be police action going to be taken,” Chief Cervera said.

All video will be kept for 60 days and will get deleted if it’s not a part of an investigation. Cervera says officers can view the footage, but they can’t edit or redact video.

The city will select a vendor by May 1 and 110 cameras are expected to go live on June 1.

The chief says the cameras will have to be replaced about every three years.

Virginia Beach is the last city in Hampton Roads to implement police body cameras. Chesapeake was the first in 2008.