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Caught on Tape 

The Spokane Police Department adds more body cameras; plus, the Coeur d'Alene School Board adds more moderates

click to enlarge SPD is rolling out 90 new body cameras on Monday.
  • SPD is rolling out 90 new body cameras on Monday.

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The SPOKANE POLICE DEPARTMENT will roll out 90 more body cameras on Monday. The new cameras will be added to the fleet of about 15-20 currently in the field. Those cameras are worn on a volunteer basis after SPD's body camera pilot program ended last year.

The 90 new cameras, which will not be worn on a voluntary basis, represent the first wave of SPD's body camera initiative that's being tracked by researchers at the University of Washington and Arizona State University.

One of the biggest issues SPD still has to figure out is how much the initiative will cost. Each camera costs about $400, but that doesn't include the docking station which allows videos to be uploaded or the subscription to a cloud-based storage system. Another area of uncertainty is how the department will pay for records requests for body camera footage.

Tim Schwering, director of strategic initiatives for SPD, says requests for footage are currently being fulfilled, but is uncertain about how the department will move forward as more cameras are added.

"Cost is going to be the biggest issue as far as data storage and records requests," Schwering says.

The Axon cameras constantly buffer video but don't record audio until the officer hits record. Once that happens, the 30 seconds prior is automatically saved. (MITCH RYALS)

Tide in, Tide Out

Back in 2012, thanks to an election, three resignations and a lawsuit, the COEUR D'ALENE SCHOOL BOARD had been completely taken over by conservatives, many of them supported by the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans. The impact was swift. They got rid of the International Baccalaureate program, hated by some Idaho conservatives as being too liberal.

But times change. A new group, Balance North Idaho, was created to act as a counterweight to the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans. The balance of power shifted.

This year, Tom Hamilton, once a leader for the conservatives, opted not to run again — allowing business owner Casey Morrisroe to run unopposed. And Tambra Pickford, a parent of three kids in the district and a longtime volunteer, edged incumbent Terri Seymour out. With Hamilton and Seymour out, the Coeur d'Alene School Board no longer has a Kootenai County Reagan Republican on it.

Ironically, the group formed to act as a counterweight to the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans had actually endorsed Seymour.

"We endorsed Terri based on interviewing both of the candidates and felt that, after her tenure, that she had learned a lot, maybe balanced out some of her own views a bit," says Eden Irgins, president of Balance North Idaho. "And [we] felt like she was a much better candidate."

But Irgins says that, despite Seymour's more recent moderate turn, much of the opposition came because of views Seymour held years ago. And the activism from the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans seemed relatively absent. There were no debates. A scheduled forum was canceled due to an illness. Turnout was low.

Irgins doesn't expect the board to, say, reintroduce the International Baccalaureate program.

"All I've heard people say is that that issue is over," Irgins says. (DANIEL WALTERS)

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