The United States Department of Justice today awarded more than $23 million to fund police departments with body cameras in an attempt to establish transparency and regain trust.
The federal grant will go to 73 local and tribal agencies in 32 states, including large departments like the Los Angeles Police Department, the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Detroit Police Department, the San Antonio Police Department, the Chicago Police Department and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C., all which will receive $1 million each, requiring those agencies to match the grants with local money.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch made the announcement today at a White House Champions of Change event.
The body-worn camera pilot program announced in May 2015 includes $19.3 million to purchase body-worn cameras, $2 million for training and technical assistance and $1.9 million to examine the impact of their use.
The grants, awarded by the department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), build on President Obama’s proposal to purchase 50,000 body-worn cameras for law enforcement agencies within three years.
Attorney General Lynch mentioned the following:
“This vital pilot program is designed to assist local jurisdictions that are interested in exploring and expanding the use of body-worn cameras in order to enhance transparency, accountability and credibility, the impact of body-worn cameras touches on a range of outcomes that build upon efforts to mend the fabric of trust, respect and common purpose that all communities need to thrive.”
The White House says that each agency awarded a grant is responsible for developing a plan for long-term storage, including the cost of storing data.
Before a law enforcement agency purchases cameras, a robust training policy must be laid out and established.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA’s) Smart Policing Initiative will support police departments in Miami, Milwaukee, and Phoenix as they examine the impact of body-worn cameras on citizen complaints, internal investigations, privacy, community relationships and cost effectiveness.
Cameras always make a difference when police behavior is involved, and at the end of the day this camera grant program will hold police departments accountable all over America.
The BJA has launched a comprehensive online toolkit that consolidates research, promising practices, model policies and other tools that address issues surrounding body-worn cameras, including implementation requirements; image retention; concerns of policy makers, prosecutors, victim, and privacy advocates; and community engagement and funding considerations.
Body worn cameras have the power to capture the intricate circumstances that citizens encounter with the police everyday.
This is one of the better ways for the truth to reveal itself in real time.
Prosecutors and Public Defenders alike will learn to appreciate this big step.
Many false arrest cases have the propensity to be dismissed, many officers will learn to be more professional & courteous on the job; the sky is the limit to the good things that body worn cameras can do for citizens and law enforcement.