A new Boston Police Department program to test body cameras on 100 officers is set to begin in September, except not a single officer has volunteered, says the Christian Science Monitor. After pushback from the police labor union, Mayor Marty Walsh has said he will make the program mandatory. The Boston Globe reports that 100 officers will be told today that they have been selected to participate. When it gets off the ground, the program is expected to last six months and equip five percent of the Boston Police force with cameras in exchange for a $500 bonus at the end of the trial period. Then the footage and data will be reviewed and, if successful, a new body camera policy may be put into place.
Body cameras have become a hot-button topic in police departments around the U.S., as civil rights activists and minority communities have pushed for more transparency in policing after high-profile shootings of minorities by police officers. Boston has avoided much of the turmoil seen in cities like Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Ferguson, Mo., thanks in part to a long-standing tradition of community policing. The Boston Police Department, however, has been reluctant to adopt body cameras. “From the top of the leadership on down [the department has] never been fully committed to body cameras so it doesn’t surprise us that the everyday average officer is not fully in support of the program,” says Segun Idowu, co-organizer of the Boston Police Camera Action Team, which has been fighting for community input on the body camera policy since Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson.