There’s no question that the American public feels safer knowing that law enforcement officers are utilizing body and dashboard cameras while on-duty. Now, police departments across the U.S. are funding body camera programs and donning their new technology on the streets.
Police departments in Jacksonville, TN, Chicago, IL, and Buffalo, NY are funding body and dashboard camera programs. According to a recent study, police officers equipped with body cameras received almost 93% fewer public complaints. It’s clear that police departments are taking notice of this data, too.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) recently announced it’s receiving a nearly $1 million federal grant to aid in purchasing body cameras in 2018. The JSO estimates it will take between $3 million and $5 million to run the program every year.
According to residents in the area, the program can’t come fast enough. There have already been six officer-involved shootings since the sheriff’s office began its body camera pilot program in July 2017.
“These cameras should be used for better trust and accountability,” Ben Frazier, president of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, told CBS Action News Jax.
And Jacksonville isn’t the only city participating in a pilot program, either.
Police officers in Buffalo, NY are participating in a pilot program for body cameras, as well. It will be the first step in equipping all of Buffalo Police Department’s 500 patrol officers with body cameras.
“We want the patrol division to use them because they’re mostly in contact with the general public,” David A. Rivera, a retired Buffalo police officer, told The Buffalo News.
Officers participating in the pilot program would likely equip their body cameras for shifts between 3 p.m. and 1 a.m. to obtain both day- and night-time footage. In total, fully implementing this program after the pilot is complete could cost the city millions annually. But it could also help reduce the 110 million ER visits that occur every year, 44% of which could be reduced to simple urgent care appointments.
It’s difficult to tell what exactly the impacts of body cameras will have once they are implemented in more cities across the nation, but these pilot programs serve as excellent insight. In addition to the numerous studies conducted in 2012 and beyond, these programs provide invaluable data both to police departments and the general public.
But while Jacksonville and Buffalo are still in the pilot program stages, Chicago is a full year ahead of schedule. In fact, all 7,000 of the city’s police officers are set to receive body cameras and put them into action.
As a result, Chicago is now home to the largest deployment of body cameras in the entire nation, according to information from the Chicago Police Department.
All in all, police body camera programs are expensive. But it’s clear that the public values accountability from its law enforcement. Jacksonville and Buffalo, as well as other cities across the U.S., will surely be hot on the tails of Chicago in the near future.