Alexandria, VA

For over four years, Alexandria Police have failed to get body worn cameras off the ground. A new report going to City Council this Tuesday outlines the costs and staffing issues that have played a part in that extended delay.

“Oftentimes, jurisdictions do not realize the true extent of costs to implement a program that is based on deploying technology devices,” City staff said in a report. “The belief that the costs are solely the devices and associated licensing fees leads to disastrous results when the ripple effects of that technology are felt. The proliferation of cloud-based technology solutions actually adds to the impression that the cost of the desired ‘e-widget’ is all that is needed for consideration. In few areas could the purchase of technology in one agency have a huge impact across many others the way that BWC programs do.”

The new report coming to the City Council follows a push earlier this year Alexandria Police to adopt a body worn camera program.

The report acknowledges, however, that Alexandria is one of the few jurisdictions in the area that doesn’t have a body worn camera program either implemented or in the works. Fairfax County Police Department implemented body worn cameras earlier this year — and within the year an officer was charged with assault and battery after being caught on camera assaulting a black man — and the Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office are both scheduled to start a body worn camera program in 2021.

Of the 17 regional law enforcement offices surveyed, only the Falls Church Police Department and Charles County Sheriff’s Office did not have body worn camera programs.

“The City is one of the few remaining law enforcement agencies in the [region] who do not employ BWC,” the report said, “though many agencies are phasing in and not yet fully deploying BWC to their staff due to unrealized costs and the need for additional staffing that were not funded.”

The report said Alexandria plans to eventually implement body worn cameras. The Alexandria Police Department would require a total of 325 body worn cameras, while the Sheriff’s Office would require 175 and the Alexandria Fire Department would need seven. As noted earlier in the report, the cameras also come with an increased cost for data storage and staffing. The report outlines a program that would phase-in body worn cameras to offset the upfront cost.

Another part of that report put the estimated total cost at between $1.4 to $2 million at first-year costs alone.

The report is scheduled to be received by the City Council at the meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Photo via Tony Webster/Flickr

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