Every Tuscaloosa Police officer is going to make use of a body camera as they interact with the public in the future, members of the city council pledged Tuesday night.

The promise comes in the wake of a deadly TPD shooting in December when a narcotics officer involved in a traffic stop fatally shot 24-year-old Tristan Clark.

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Police have said Clark was wanted and armed, and that he pulled a handgun on the narcotics officers involved in the stop, who ordered him to drop it before killing him.

The victim's family, citing the other people in the vehicle when Clark was shot, claim the father of three never drew a gun.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

To date, no video footage of the shooting has been publicly released, whether captured from a body camera, dash camera or bystander cell phone. TPD has not officially said that no footage exists, as investigators who are not affiliated with the Department look into the shooting, but it would not be uncommon for narcotics officers who work in plain clothes to forego wearing a camera.

At a meeting of the city council Tuesday night - the first since the deadly shooting on December 20th - Lisa Young, the president of the Tuscaloosa chapter of the NAACP, continued to call for more transparency from the department.

"As a concerned citizen, I am deeply troubled by the recent events involving the Tuscaloosa Police Department and the urgent need for transparency and accountability within our law enforcement," she said. "The lack of body cameras and dash cameras for TPD personnel has resulted in devastating consequences, eroding public trust and leaving families without critical answers."

This drew a commitment from District 7 city councilman Cassius Lanier, who said he had been working with Matthew Wilson and Ravean Howard, the other Black members of the council, toward more transparency.

"We hit the ground two weeks ago, me and Councilwoman Howard, councilman Wilson, along with the support of our fellow council members, TPD, and the mayor to put a policy in place that all TPD officers will have body cameras going forward," Lanier said.

Every Tuscaloosa Police officer is going to make use of a body camera as they interact with the public in the future, members of the city council pledged Tuesday night.

In a follow-up statement provided to the Thread, Chief of Police Brent Blankley noted that all patrol officers already wear body cameras - an expensive commitment the city made under his tenure - but committed to finding ways to improve.

"Shortly after I became Chief in 2020, we began a multi-million dollar project to replace outdated equipment with upgraded body-worn and in-car dash cameras for all patrol officers, who engage most frequently with the public. This has been a significant investment by the City Council, but one we felt was important," Blankley said. "Working with Councilors Howard, Lanier and Wilson, we are exploring avenues to do more in different divisions inside the police department. The collaborative effort with the city council furthers our goal of modernizing policing practices and ensuring Tuscaloosa PD remains at the forefront of technological advancements in law enforcement."

For the specifics of this new policy and details about its implementation as they are made public, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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