Body-worn cameras are powerful cameras that are small in nature. These gadgets act as a silent partner for police and first responders. The use of these cameras is growing due to their usefulness in the application for law enforcement given that there are increasing cases of threats to the police from criminals and adverse environments. It also becomes a monitoring tool for the police officers because it captures all undertakings while in operation, thus ensuring officers work according to set methods and guidelines. The introduction of the small body-worn cameras for enforcing the law is becoming a favorite in various police departments. Even though there are issues of privacy concerning the use of the body-worn cameras by both police agencies and the public, there are myriad benefits and these advantages outweigh many of the issues raised.
The Benefits of Body-worn Cameras
The foremost benefit is that body-worn cameras document every encounter, thereby making available evidence for cases that are not easy to prosecute. Domestic violence cases that have remained hard to handle owing to lack or insufficient evidence or witnesses not willing to testify are now possible because of availability of recorded video. As per bwvsg (2105), cases handled by the police with the use of body-worn camera footage lead to guilty pleas and no trial.
In addition, the use of body-worn cameras improves evidence collection at the scenes of accidents. These cameras have the capability of capturing every scene in any area that the officer travels, thus putting an end to conflicting reports done without use of camera footage. Unlike stationary cameras in police vehicles, body-worn cameras capture everything from the officer’s point-of-view. These cameras are incredibly important in the preservation of information.
Furthermore, body-worn cameras are the solution to existing consent decrees. In the investigation of police officers facing external investigations and consent decrees, the body cameras offer a solution. It is possible through the use of cameras worn on the body to prove that the police officer is engaged in constitutional rights on a regular basis. Through the camera, it is possible to monitor the engagement of the police with the community in the pursuit of improving practices and policies of policing.
Moreover, the use of these cameras has elevated the capabilities of police to enhance their operation, communication, customer service and other areas through the use of recorded footage. It provides an arena for training new officers as well as allowing the identification of areas that require improvement. The practices of the police officers get monitored on a daily basis and thus inform supervisors who is using correct practices while operating. The officers not following guidelines are monitored and video provides daily progress that serves as evidence for disciplinary action if necessary. Besides monitoring, the body-worn cameras allow identification of structural problems in the police department which is going to lead to the revision of policies, training and protocols.
The use of body-worn cameras facilitates a decrease in complaints filed against officers on allegations that may range from sexual harassment to alleged racial bias.
The body worn cameras are relatively inexpensive as compared to in-car cameras. Cost becomes viable because it permits the maintenance of mobile video in an effective manner at a small price.
2017 Police Grant Programs
The Department of Justice has made public the summaries of grant programs available for 2017. This is in relation to a call by the President through a budget request. There is a list of 75 programs provided for the justice system in which the grant applicants can present their case for funding. In the list, a program description is given, the amount, the administering institution, type of applicants, type of award, and the goals of the program. Additionally, the award history, as well as the compliments, is given (Schlegel, 2016).
Prior to application, there is the need to understand the goal of the grant so as to prepare a clear fundable and measurable application for the grant. A data-driven diagnosis is essential to allow customization of strategies. This calls for researching, writing and in the end submitting a winning proposal. In doing this, there are technical centers where assistance can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs’ Diagnostic Center which is a resource for technical assistance. The resource emphasizes diagnosis based on data-driven techniques for criminal justice and public safety for obtaining evidence-based solutions with the use of customized strategies. Since the time for the grants is 2017, the time is now to begin creating fundable goals because the process is lengthy and involving. Organizations intending to apply for the grants need to assess needs, make the strategic plan up to date and in line with the state’s strategic plan; measure the outcome for the past year and make a new application (Schlegel, 2016). There are 75 programs but not all suits law enforcement agencies. The following section describes the grants that are available for the grant application of the purchase of body-worn camera by the law enforcement agencies.
Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) Program
The purpose of the program is to enhance the operation of criminal justice system via the provision of grants that are multi-purpose and flexible to the local governments, state, as well as Indian tribes. The award accommodates the variety of public safety initiatives and criminal justice. It comprises of crime prosecution, law enforcement, indigent defense, and courts. In addition, the grants are also provided for the purpose of preventing crime, education, corrections in the community, drug treatment, grants to state and territories, grants to local government as well as Indian tribes. On top of this, the areas for the grants are ensuring technology for public safety and law enforcement and witness services. The legislation that is authorizing the grant is the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets. It is under Act of 1968 that was amended-42 USC 3758. The administering body is the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Schlegel, 2016).
According to the strategic objective of DOJ, the aim is to promote and strengthen interaction and approaches for the administration of justice with law enforcement organizations, groups, prosecutors, and protectors via novel guidance and programs. To be in line with DOJ strategic objectives, BJA ensures that the grantees concentrate on the reduction of violence with the use of firearms. In addition, it strengthens police officers with the provision of body-worn cameras, reducing incarceration with the aim of promoting public safety, improvement of health services, as well as the implementation of quality representation for poor defendants (ojp, 2106).
The performance measures for JAG in financial year 2015 were revised to have requirements where the grantees can apply evidence-based strategies in their work. The aim is to ensure that state agencies establish whether crime reduction approaches are yielding fruits. The BJA’s funded projects have impacted positively on communities and thus meet the objectives of JAG. The proposed changes in financial 2017 are to increase funding so as to support training to enhance police-based responses to people having the mental illness. It is going to assist the police work together with health professionals, community organizations and social services, and criminal agencies to address the complex problem (Schlegel, 2016).
The availability of the grant is for four years. The territories that are eligible for the grant are Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam and US Virgin Islands. The determination of the grant is based on violent crime statistics and population. There are also grants given to local governments as well as the Indian tribes. The award is over $25,000 for four years and if less than $25,000 it will be for two years and is based on the violent crime statistics and population (ojp, 2106).
Body-worn Camera Program
The Body-worn camera program’s purpose is to enhance transparency in the enforcement of law via effective provision and utilization of body-worn camera systems. Investigations reveal that body-worn cameras serve as an essential tool for creating and maintaining trust between the police and the society. The grant supports the buying and deployment of body-worn cameras, supports the infrastructure required to support body- worn cameras, training of personnel and help needed to develop laws on the use of body-worn cameras. The authorizing body is the Department of Justice appropriations acts and administered by Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). In relation to DOJ’s strategic objective, BAJ aims at assisting law enforcement agencies in the identification of safe and effective means of deploying camera technology as well as dealing with issues like privacy, archive, and the laws concerning the use. BJA guides agencies through a complex process to a successful technology adoption (Schlegel, 2016).
A major accomplishment of BJA is the launch of an online Toolkit (National Body Worn Camera Toolkit) for clearing resources meant to assist the police and the society; to plan and implement body-worn cameras. The Toolkit consolidates as well as translating research, practices, and tools developed by the technology experts into one source. The focus of the National Body Worn Camera Toolkit is training, policies, procurement, implementation and retention. It comprises the views of society, defenders, prosecutors and advocates. It is proposed that for the year 2017, funding will increase to ensure many organizations benefit. In addition, it is going to be essential in training and provision of technical assistance that is going to help body-worn camera policy and implementation efforts. There is the need for technical experts to assist in developing strategies and adopting body-worn camera technology, maintaining the Body-Worn Camera Toolkit and track the results of grants awarded. The target group is the tribal law enforcement agencies, state, local and fiscal agents. The funds are given through a competitive process, and the winners get $700,000 for 36 months. The goals of BJA are to address issues of crimes, challenges in the organization and factors causing crimes. It is a requirement that applicants work with research partners so as to engage in the meaningful and realistic task so as to assess and measure the effectiveness of the efforts exerted. This will serve to provide feedback to BJA so as to give the progress of the project and whether it is making an impact to the targeted area (Ojp, 2106).
Smart Policing Program
The purpose of the smart policing program is to enhance the performance of policing through managing costs and by assisting law enforcement agencies to create and utilize strategies that are date-driven, coupled and evidence-based means. The program is intended to support the state, local, and tribal jurisdictions implement and evaluate ways of dealing with crimes that are chronic. The requirement for grantees is that there is the need for creation of strong connection with research practitioners so as to make the police work effective (homeland security grants, 2016). It is useful for evaluation to ascertain efficiency, effectiveness and the economic state of the program. The body in charge of the program is the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) administers the grant which ensures a competitive process in the distribution of fund to applicants. The funding is for 36 months and is worth $700,000. In doing this BJA work with the goal of selecting different organizations through analysis of the type, the problems encountered, challenges experienced and the factors driving crimes. The goal is in line with the DOJ’s strategic objective of strengthening relationships and strategies for the administration of justice by the stakeholders (homeland security grants, 2016).
The funding is by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The grant touches areas of juvenile justice, delinquency prevention, and comprehensive gang models. It supports both regional and multi-disciplinary approaches to combating gang and youth aggression via coordinated law enforcement, reintegration programs, prosecution, prevention and intervention (bad news, 2016). The preference is based on proposals that target areas with high levels of violence, gangs, and a commitment to strategies of protecting the society, a plan encompassing strong partners and a commitment to contribute to the private and public sector for programs located in the city. The program target is in three categories: the community with eligibility to apply ten awards in the range of $35,000 to $50,000. Moreover, the city/quasi-city which has the eligibility to apply ten awards of which two are $200,000 and three are $100,000 and the law enforcement agencies with the eligibility to apply two awards each $40,000. The grant is open for 2017 (bad news, 2016).
Driver’s License Security Grant Program (DLSGP)
The grant is to support law enforcement agencies in the improvement of the security and integrity of issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. In agreement with the REAL ID Act 2005, the grant is intended to assist in a collective effort to ensure a secure system in verification and issuance of ID’s and drivers licenses. The FEMA partners are expected to provide management of grants and its activities. The proposal submitted by states must be such that they have the greatest impact on reducing false issuance of driver’s licenses and identification cards, lessen costs of program implementation and hasten up the progress in meeting minimum security standards (Fema, 2016).
Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG)
The EMPG’s purpose is to provide grants to the stakeholders in preparation of hazards. The authorization of the grant is from Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The administering body is FEMA. FEMA’s goal is support systems that offer emergency preparedness services together with the states and Federal government. Through EMPG, the government offers direction, guidance, and coordination to support hazards emergency systems. The applicants who are eligible are 56 States and territories; Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia and only one application is acceptable from each state and region (Fema, 2016).
Freight Rail Security Grant Program (FRSGP)
The purpose of FRSGP is to provide funding for training employees, completing assessments that are vulnerable, security plans development in freight rail industry as well as GPS tracking systems to cover rail and road cars transporting toxic materials. The eligible groups request funding for emergency response training, security awareness, and vulnerability assessments. Eligible groups are Class I, II and III carriers and owners of railroad vehicles. The focus is on making sure that there are transportation infrastructure security activities in place for protecting surface transportation (Fema, 2016).
Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP)
The TSGP take an essential role in the provision of the fund to owners as well as operators of the transit system. The aim is to safeguard security while on transit against terrorism, emergencies, and other disasters. TSGP provide the fund to areas of the state highly prone to threat. The eligibility of the applicants is based on the Urban Areas Security Initiative with the use of an empirically-grounded risk analysis model. Terry systems are also eligible based on Tier I cooperative agreement process only if not part of the Port Security Grant Program (Fema, 2016).
Intercity Passenger Rail Program (IPR)
The IPR’s purpose is making sure that there are sustainable risk-based efforts of protecting surface transport in areas that are most vulnerable to major disasters and terrorism attack. It provides assistance regarding finances to address planning, training, organization, equipment and build sustaining capabilities of preventing terrorism acts. The funds support organizations on the terrorism preparedness, enhancing capabilities relating to the prevention, protection, mitigation and recovery from terrorism. The only body eligible for the program is Amtrak (Fema, 2016).
Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI)
The UASI provides funding for technology under classification II though FEMA, and the program targets assistance in high-threat and high-density Urban Areas. The aim is to prevent, protect, mitigate, act on, and recover from terrorist actions. It provides assistance regarding finances to address planning, training, organization, equipment and build sustaining capabilities of preventing terrorism acts. The funds support terrorism preparedness activities and strategies, enhancing capabilities relating to the prevention, protection, mitigation and recovery from terrorism (homeland security grants, 2016). The dual-quality is a must for grantees for any activities implemented not focusing particularly on terrorism preparedness. It is encouraged that urban areas use UASI funds to use regional approaches so as to adopt regional response structures when appropriate (homeland security grants, 2016).
Operation Stonegarden (OPSG)
The grant is from the federal government under IT classification, and the authority is given to FEMA. The purpose of the program is to enhance border cooperation as well as coordination. The program fund investment in the effort to secure borders along the route of ingress from other nations. It comprises of travel corridors, states, territories and water borders. The support is meant to assist concerned bodies to accomplish the following objectives: respond to border security issues, encourage border strategies for safety, intelligence operation, operation materials and increase coordination and cooperation (homeland security grants, 2016).
In the pursuit to protect society, the federal and the state provide numerous grant opportunities that allow the purchase of body-worn cameras. In order to get the funding, the police department must incorporate the purchase of body-worn cameras into the strategic plan. It must be in line with policing strategies that have the purpose of the grant. There is the need for clear policies as well as procedures that address the use of the camera, such as when to turn the camera on and off during policing.
In preparation for the grant application, the agency must build a case for funding. The department selects the product, provides a justification and identifies the funder. The case serves the purpose of answering the funder’s request for proposal. A careful review is mandatory for each grant program as well as each grant solicitation. This allows the determination of program requirements, eligibility and the program’s associated cost.
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