Police Body Cams Popular; States, Cities Need Money To Buy Them


As the push intensifies for police to wear body cameras, states and cities must deal with their high cost. The price of a single camera ranges from less than $100 to more than $1,000, based on the size of the purchase (larger police departments may get a discount) and whether the deal includes data storage services, reports Stateline. Managing and storing the video costs many times the price of the cameras themselves. Because the technology is so new, it's likely that it will have to be replaced fairly quickly, which would require additional expenditures. In a survey by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), nearly 40 percent of departments without body cameras cited cost as the primary barrier to using them.

States are struggling with whether cameras should be worn all the time and whether the video should be a public record, which can affect costs. As of April 20, 34 states were considering 117 bills related to police body cameras, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far, only a handful of states have figured out how to pay for them. “They (cameras) can be a really great tool if implemented correctly,” said Lindsay Miller of PERF. “It's not as easy as sticking a camera on an officer and sending them out in the field.” Miller adds, “The money has to come from somewhere.” New Jersey requires officers or their vehicles to have cameras and levies a $25 surcharge on convicted drunk drivers to pay for them. Texas is considering the allocation of $50 million to buy cameras. Rep. Ron Reynolds, the sponsor, says, “If there's no funding, then it's nothing more than an unfunded mandated; it's nothing more than a noble idea. A lot of these municipalities …don’t have the revenue to do it.”

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