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Body Cam Technology Gets Presidential Boost

4 Mar 2015 by Christine Kern

In the wake of the high-profile deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City, President Barack Obama proposed new funding for body cam technology in December to help improve relations between police departments and communities.

The funding for police body cameras includes $75 million over three years to match state funding for the cameras by 50 percent, helping to pay for more than 50,000 of the devices.

According to the Washington Post, many police officials support the adoption of field technology, and most recognize that they are becoming standard equipment for officers. Jim Buerrmann, president of the Police Foundation in Washington, told the Washington Post that, “Within the next five years or so, body-worn cameras will be as ubiquitous in the world of policing as handcuffs, the police radio, the gun.”

In places where body cameras are already in use by officers in the field, the results have been positive. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, and police in New York, Chicago, and Washington all have implemented pilot programs for body cameras, and Ferguson police quickly adopted the use of body cameras in the wake of the Michael Brown incident to raise transparency of police actions.

And a 2012-2013 study at the Rialto Police Department demonstrated that use of body cameras actually reduced the use of force and the number of citizen complaints against officers.

According to the Greeley Tribune, Greeley (Colorado) Police Chief Jerry Garner investigated statewide use of body cams and found that approximately 17 percent of departments in the state currently use them, a figure that reflects the national trend. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, approximately one in six departments across the country deploy the cameras, though with Obama’s new initiative that number may be on the rise.

“What better way to have transparency than when your police department is wearing body-worn cameras?” Capt. Randy De Ande of the Rialto Police force told the Greeley Tribune. “The statistics behind the body-worn cameras do show a significant decrease in officer complaints and use of force, but it also on a lot of occasions exonerates officers and the decisions they make out there in the field.”

With the use of new technology, larger volumes of evidence will be created that will need to be catalogued and stored. To do so, cloud storage is the only cost-effective and practical option for agencies. While the transition toward private cloud storage of digital evidence may take some time to implement, the potential to limit liability and resolve cases faster will ultimately prove the move to the cloud to be an efficient and cost-effective decision for most agencies.

Content Service Providers (CSP) are available to all agencies in the United States, regardless of location. The ability to utilize CSPs is limited only by broadband access, which should not be a barrier to most agencies. Agencies should properly research and vet reliable CSPs that have tailored their service around protecting digital evidence and are FedRAMP certified.

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