In the race to equip police officers with body cameras, some cities are bypassing usual purchasing rules to award vendors with controversial no-bid contracts, reports USA Today. Hundreds of cameras and millions in public dollars have been committed in such deals involving Albuquerque, San Diego and Spokane. In Los Angeles, $1.6 million in private funding not subject to regular municipal controls is financing the acquisition of about 800 cameras that could be on the streets in 90 days.
“We didn’t want to get in line” for public funding, said Steve Soboroff of the Los Angeles Police Commission. “I believe (body cameras) will be transformational for the department.” While camera technology has been touted as among the most promising strategies to bolster flagging trust between police and minority communities, criminal justice analysts are urging law enforcement agencies to proceed with caution in its application. “Where I begin to sit up and take notice is when there is a lack of deliberation,” said University of Pittsburgh law Prof. David Harris. “You want to be sure when you use new technology that it will be a benefit.”