The city of Boston has released the final report on its police body camera pilot project and Mayor Marty Walsh says the city plans to make body cameras a permanent part of the police force. The overall findings of the report indicate the small, but meaningful benefits that the placement of body cameras have on encounters between residents and police officers.
100 officers participated in a year-long body-worn camera pilot program that concluded this past September. As part of the one-year pilot program, BPD officers outfitted with body cameras generated roughly 38,200 videos that covered more than 4,600 hours of police work in Boston neighborhoods.
Mayor Walsh says he plans to meet with police unions to get them on board and will implement cameras over several phases eventually reaching the entire department.
“This study shows the potential value that body cameras can have as part of our overall strategy for strengthening ties between law enforcement and the residents they serve,” Mayor Walsh said in a statement.
The city says body cameras have increased trust between officers and the community. Report findings show that in a randomized test, on camera encounters between police and individuals were more civil and that officers who wore cameras got fewer complaints than those who did not. The Boston Police have also implemented bias and de-escalation training in an effort to cut down on unnecessary use of force incidents.
The report recommends that the city implement a video review process for all appropriate cases as well as establishing a formal chain of custody plan for video storage and use in criminal cases.
Based on preliminary analysis of the pilot program, Mayor Walsh proactively included a $2 million investment in this year’s budget for the adoption of police-worn body cameras, covering start-up costs and the purchase of up to 400 cameras. This builds off the initial $500,000 set aside in FY18 for the body camera pilot program. Program costs for the first three years are estimated at $8.5 million, with annual recurring costs after FY21 estimated at $3.3 million, however, final costs will be dependent on several factors and are subject to change.
The full text of the report is available here.