Who Pays for Police Body Cameras?

There are many misconceptions when it comes to who actually pays for police body cameras. Police departments have 2 budgets throughout the whole year and have to make them last for all 12 months. Most times, these budgets are tight, not leaving any money for extra expenses. So, who pays for police body cameras?

Let’s start with the ideal but not-so-frequent way: Police Seizures. Departments, sometimes, are sitting on a pile of items that were confiscated through Civil Forfeiture. When that’s the case, agencies can sell these material possessions on government auctions for a much lower price than current market value and turn them into funding. Considering that’s something that doesn’t happen too often, that route is the least likely out of all the options listed in this article.

The biannual budgets previously mentioned usually happen in July and October and should be enough to pay for all of the department’s expenses. But those are often barely enough to pay for the agency’s overhead, leaving no room for extra expenses. When that’s the case, the chief of police needs to ask the federal government for more funding through a grant. Gathering all the documents and information to apply for a grant is a costly, time-consuming task. It requires a grant writer and many days to be completed. The whole process could take months until the grant is approved ─ if it’s approved.

Issuing a Request For Proposal (RFP) is another common practice when departments are looking to purchase body cameras. Each department writes a personalized RFP with its own needs in mind, specifying the desired specs of the body cameras, accessories, storage solutions, and services provided to maintain the entire solution. Once the RFP is out, companies can apply and, after a thorough cost-benefit analysis, the department chooses the offer that best meets their needs and budget. After that long process, the city will help the department pay for the program.

Donations are another way for agencies to get their body camera programs paid for. Although very uncommon, departments sometimes find good, charitable souls to help them pay for their body camera needs. There are a few websites and programs out there that help with matching donators with departments in need, which makes this practice slightly easier. Some departments even go as far as starting a Gofundme page to be able to purchase body cameras.

Purchasing body camera solutions for police departments is much more complicated than it seems. It involves money and many hours of work. Law enforcement agents should always be equipped with the best, most sophisticated equipment available. Hopefully, cities and states will soon realize the importance of body-worn cameras and start allocating a decent amount of resources for every department in the country to be equipped with these devices.

Helpful links:
Learn more about Civil Forfeiture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_forfeiture_in_the_United_States
Apply for a US Federal Government grant: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html
Learn more about RFPs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Request_for_proposal

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