Two critical cases that shone the light on the issue of use of force took place in 2014. The death of Eric Garner and Mike Brown probed the racism in the police force and likewise highlighted the racial divide when it comes to people's perception of law enforcement. These cases railroaded the clamor for a means to support transparency and accountability.
One of the ways identified to uphold both the citizens’ and the officers’ rights is through body-worn cameras (BWCs). Carrying out a Body-Worn Camera Program became somewhat of an imperative. A few months following the incidents, the Obama Administration provided support for the implementation of police departments’ initiatives to equip their officers with body-worn cameras.
Today’s webinar resource speakers are some of the trailblazers when it comes to implementing a BWC program. Michael White, Ph.D., is a professor at the Arizona State University for criminology and criminal justice. Prior to entering the academe, he worked as a deputy sheriff in Pennsylvania. Currently, he is the co-director of training and technical assistance for the US-DOJ Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program. Meanwhile, Brenda Buren, Ph.D. is the Tempe Arizona Police Department’s Support Services Director and is one of the leading figures for their PD’s BWC program.
Michael provides the framework that the Tempe PD followed when they implemented the BWC program for their jurisdiction. Brenda then provides experience-based insights from planning to roll-out for the Tempe PD.
Specifics that were covered in the webinar include:
- An overview and historical perspective that led to Police Departments’ adaptation of the body-worn camera program.
First initiatives and steps taken for the inception of the program as the:
- Federal grant pledged by former President Obama
- A 2-day Expert Panel brainstorming session at the White House
- The toolkit which served as a resource warehouse for BWC programs
- The Body-Worn Camera Policy Implementation Program (BWC-PIP) and the statistics related to grants submitted and awarded.
The Law Enforcement Implementation Checklist that served as the framework for Tempe PD’s BWC program which includes:
- 1 – Learning the fundamentals by familiarizing with available materials to gain an understanding of the technology and issues related to it
- 2 – Developing a plan that covers defining objectives, setting a budget, identifying stakeholders, and employing a research partner
- 3 – Forming the team that will guide program planning and implementation that involves a cross-section of relevant units, leaders, and external stakeholders/contributors
- 4 – Developing a policy by looking at local, state and federal laws, other agencies’ policies and considering input from other relevant stakeholders
- 5 – The details involved in purchasing the BWC units that assess technical requirements, capabilities and limitations, shortlisting vendors based on these, and testing the actual units
- 6 – Communicating and training stakeholders about the program and the policies governing it
- 7 – A phased rollout that allows for easier training and troubleshooting in case of issues
- The outcomes of the program that subscribed to the Law Enforcement Implementation Checklist for BWCs.
- Building a case for the checklist and studies/findings supporting the effectivity of the program.
- Poll questions asked the attendees their profession, their knowledge of the National BWC toolkit, and their agencies’ use of BWCs.
Topics mentioned in the Q&A segment are on:
Availability of the federal funding for:
- Private law enforcement agencies in universities/college campuses
- U.S. Territories like the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
- The vendor Tempe PD ended up going with
- The time spent from research to full deployment for Tempe PD
- Dealing with requests and the ability to redact the videos
- The feasibility and timeline to prepare a grant application
- Reaching out to partners in the academe
- Funding the BWCs program one-time costs and its recurring costs
- Availability of the federal funding for: