Do people tend to behave better when they know they’re being watched? Those in favor of law enforcement officers wearing body cameras think so. In the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Freddie Gray’s death while in police custody in Baltimore, MD, proponents of body-worn cameras argue that their use improves police and civilian behavior, reveals instances of police misconduct, and builds trust between the police and the communities they serve.
If you work for a law enforcement agency, you should know that there’s new grant money available for body cameras.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice announced $20 million in matching grants going toward body-worn cameras (BWC) for local and tribal law enforcement organizations, with $17 million of that fund going toward equipment purchases and the remainder toward training, technical assistance, and the development of evaluation tools to study best practices. About 50 grants will be made through this solicitation, with one-third of the awards going to smaller law enforcement agencies. Agencies have until June 16, 2015, to submit their application.
A number of law enforcement organizations have already begun researching surveillance equipment and using or planning to purchase body cameras. Here is just a sample:
- Grand Blanc Township, MI: Several months ago, the township started research on body cameras for its officers.
- Cleveland, OH: The city intends to purchase 1,500 police body cameras and storage.
- Paulsboro, NJ: After implementing body cameras four months ago, the borough has seen a decline in internal affairs complaints of almost 90 percent in the first quarter of 2015.