MOUNT PLEASANT — The shooting of Tyrese West, 18, by a Mount Pleasant police officer has raised many questions including questions about the department’s body camera policy.

Five days following the fatal shooting of West on Racine Street early Saturday, on Thursday police had not said whether the officer involved was wearing a police body camera.

Racine Police are leading the investigation and have not given the answer.

According to Mount Pleasant’s police body camera policy, it is optional for officers to wear the cameras, and they have discretion about when to turn on the cameras.

According to Mount Pleasant Police Department policy, which was last revised in 2013, under a section titled “Provision,” the department “will provide officers with portable video equipment. Officers are encouraged to check out portable video equipment when available.”

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According to that same policy, “All involved officers shall activate their camera prior to making contact in any of the following incidents, when safe and practical:”

  • Probation and parole search;
  • Service of a search or arrest warrant; and
  • “Before/during any other incident at their discretion.”

Once the camera is on, according to the policy, “the recording shall not be intentionally terminated until the conclusion of the encounter. The encounter is not concluded until the officer physically leaves the scene.”

Mount Pleasant Police Chief Matt Soens confirmed that the policy is still current.

Soens said, “We do not have enough body cameras to issue each officer. They are encouraged to check one out at the beginning of their shift. As the current policy states, they are not mandated to activate the camera for every interaction. The current cameras we have do not activate automatically, so officers have to manually turn them on and off.”

Soens added, “Normally we request additional body cameras each year to supplement our existing inventory. Our goal is to have enough cameras to issue every officer their own. We will be requesting additional cameras again during the upcoming budget cycle.”

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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