A handful of major US cities are moving toward police body camera programs. Houston, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. have all recently approved police body cameras, and several other cities are also considering plans of their own.
Police body cameras have emerged as a hot button issue as trust in law enforcement falls to new lows following a spate of high profile incidents where police were seen using excessive force on civilians. But, creating a program requires budget as well as a consideration of how the video will be stored and handled.
Houston’s plan announced today will take a phased in approach with an eye toward outfitting the entire force within a year and a half. The city is still in the process of choosing a camera vendor.
The Los Angeles Police Commission also announced this week that it has approved a five-year $31 million contract to outfit the entire police force with cameras. TASER will get the contract if it is approved by the city. LAPD said it would need nearly $26.5 million in addition to the TASER contract to cover other expenses incurred during the full deployment of the cameras. In total the program is expected to cost $57 million.
Analysts covering TASER say two other contracts with New York and London are in the pipeline for the company as well. TASER is competing against other providers like Motorola Solutions as police departments nationwide face pressure to implement camera programs.
Finally, the Washington D.C City Council has also approved and set aside funds for body cameras, however implementation efforts have been stalled as council members and police tussle over how video from the cameras will be handled and made available to the public. A compromise bill was introduced for consideration this week.
To date, only Albuquerque and New Orleans are the only major cities to have fully implanted body camera programs. Watch this space.