What is a “Body Cam,” and how does it work?

    Body Worn Cameras (BWC's) are portable recording devices (both audio and visual) used by law enforcement to record interactions with the public, and to gather video evidence at crime scenes.

    Why would we invest in a BWC program?

    • Trust between the public and law enforcement is key to achieving both our mission (safety and fear reduction) and our vision (setting the standard of excellence).
    • Transparency is a key foundation of trust. The public's expectations that police actions be recorded is increasing. In fact, some communities/groups have demanded it.
    • Fact is, nearly everyone has a camera/phone at their ready and the recording of police activity/interactions is increasing and being shared with media outlets. If we don’t have our own video, from the officers’ perspective, it may be difficult to rebut or defend public perception and the officer’s legitimate actions.
    • Broad studies have found that the use of body cameras by police has led to a significant decrease in both citizen complaints and officer use of force rates.
    • Aids in prosecution of criminal cases. Studies have found a 20% increase in prosecution rates (guilty pleas) where video evidence was available.
    • Increase in transparency and the ability to protect and defend officers from false claims and the city in potential litigation.

    What are the costs of a BWC program?

    • Upfront and on-going vendor costs: Initial Estimates $140k-$170 spread over a 5-year contract, depending on cloud storage and other “add on” features.
    • Staffing costs due to public disclosure requirements.
    • If a FTE is needed = $125k/year
    • Staffing costs due to information technology requirements (hardware, software, system integration etc.)

    What are some of the challenges?

    • Unknown true impact on current staffing levels—exploring ways to use create/use existing capacity in various departments.
    • Requires bargaining impacts with Guild. Current survey of officer support has mixed results with 50% in favor, 50% against BWC.
    • Unknown future legislative mandates on other police reforms that require funding and resources. (Community Oversight Boards HB 1203)
    • Will Body Cams eventually be required? Be ahead of the curve or behind it?