The US Justice Department is rolling out a program to provide funding support to police departments across the country to develop and implement body-worn cameras (BWCs). The program is part of a federal initiative aimed at strengthening the relationship between communities and law enforcement agencies. It is expected to ensure safe and effective delivery of policing services across the country.
Police Departments Feeling Safer
Recent incidents in Ferguson, New York City, and Baltimore have led to racial tensions and a breakdown in trust between people and law enforcement agencies in the US. This is what prompted the Obama-administration to review the federal funding program for equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies.
In an effort to improve the existing system, the President in December last year announced a three-year $263 million investment package, of which $75 million will be allocated for purchasing 50,000 body-worn cameras. Overall, the increased funding is expected to facilitate engagement between the community and local law enforcement agencies by taking up steps to train and reform the police departments.
As part of this, Department of Justice in May kick-started the$20 million pilot program for body-worn cameras (BWCs). The funding includes $17 million in competitive grants for the purchase of body-worn cameras, $2 million for training and technical assistance and $1 million for the development of evaluation tools to study best practices.
While the federal funding will cover 50 percent of the cost of purchasing BWCs and storage, States/local agencies have to cover the other half of the funding. The Justice Department is looking at providing up to 50 awards to law enforcement agencies, of which more than 30 percent of the assistance will be directed toward smaller agencies.
Police departments have been using BWCs as an investigative tool for crime scene information, the new pilot program is considered as the next technological progression, where BWCs will work as a tool for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability and advancing public safety.
As BWC program can help transform police departments and build trust within communities, states have also come forward to offer assistance. Texas police departments, for instance, will receive assistance from the state for implementing BWC program. Police departments in Texas, looking to be part of the program will receive $10 million funding assistance from the state in the form of grants over the next two years and the departments will have to match 25 percent of the state’s grant. The state Senate also passed legislation in May on the use of BWCs.
The last date for submission of an application for a grant for the pilot implementation of BWCs was on June 26. While those departments, which have managed to submit an application detailing the implementation procedures, outcome measurements, and compliance standards, are likely to receive funding in the coming days, the grant alone will not be sufficient for the departments to achieve the intended objectives of the BWC program.
In order to ensure enhanced public safety and service delivery mechanism, the departments, which have received funding will have to develop a strategy to tackle the technology challenges associated with the program apart from matching federal grants in shouldering the cost of buying cameras.
The technological challenges of the program will include safe storage of video footage information, retrieving it when the need arises and managing it in an efficient manner.
Storing the video footage information
Dallas police estimate that it will cost between $2 million and $11 million to equip its 2,500 officers with cameras. Still, it does not address the entire issue of storage as police departments do not have the expertise and capacity to store huge amount of video footage.
Buying cameras, which is the hardware, is the easiest part of the program. And, most of the camera manufacturers do not offer a storage facility for such huge amounts of data. As a result, law enforcement agencies will have to look for solution partners for data storage and security.
As the data and information in the form of video footage can become criminal evidence in the wake of an untoward incident, police departments will have to ensure that the data is secure. Besides, such data have to be duplicated and stored to eliminate any possibility of loss. Also, most police departments will have to improve their bandwidth connectivity.
Considering the scarcity of resources and threat to security, on-premise storage of information will not be a viable option for law enforcement agencies. Most of them are also not equipped to train their resources on technology and the IT infrastructure required to store this data.
In this scenario, agencies, which have secured funding from the government, will have to partner with a solution provider, who can offer them the storage and infrastructure support at an affordable price. This is where cloud technology comes in. A cloud services provider can help departments store the data without being worried about the infrastructure support. Cloud storage data is also easy to retrieve and can withstand on-premise issues like natural calamity and security breach due to human errors. A reliable cloud service provider can offer the much-needed data protection and security while the agencies can focus on their core function – enhancing safety and security of the public.
A cloud service provider can also offer basic training services to the police personnel on how to handle the data, replicate and restore in the cloud. As per the application procedure for securing a federal grant for BWCs, it was mandatory for the agencies to submit a detailed plan for the program implementation along with a robust training policy before purchasing cameras. A technology solution provider can help meet these training requirements of the police departments, which have secured funding, at an affordable cost.
As police personnel is expected to record footage while on duty, the departments will need a solution that can offer easy scalability. Given the high cost of bandwidth, the cloud is the best possible option. A cloud service provider can help offer orchestration capabilities, to ensure every bit of BWC data moving around in the cloud ends up exactly where it’s supposed to be, at exactly the right time.
DoubleHorn offers end-to-end, compliant (CJIS) or any other major compliance standard) solutions to implement the body-worn camera program, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-61-VOICE (86423).