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Police body cameras back in Alexandria budget with federal funding boost

Body-worn camera (photo via Tony Webster/Flickr)

After seven years, body-worn cameras are back in the city budget, but both planned funding and congressional support are still just a drop in the bucket compared to the full cost of the program.

Though the program has been in the budget in previous years, Alexandria communications officer Andrea Blackford said the city hasn’t put any money into the program yet.

“The City of Alexandria has not yet expended funds on the body-worn camera program,” Blackford said. “In Spring 2015, the City began discussing and planning for the program.”

Blackford said FY 2021 was the first year that program costs were incorporated into the budget, but they got axed when the city had to dramatically reshape the budget to deal with the economic impact of Covid.

“Given the high cost of personnel, equipment, and data storage associated with the program, it was first included in the budget process for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021,” Blackford said. “In the initial FY 2021 proposed budget, a police sergeant position was added to evaluate an implementation plan for the program. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the position was removed from the budget.”

Two years later, Blackford said implementation is back in the FY 2023 budget.

City staff have continued to discuss and plan for implementation, resulting in the inclusion of $200,000 in the FY 2023 proposed budget to begin formal implementation of the program.

In addition to the city’s $200,000, Rep. Don Beyer managed to secure $600,000 in federal funding to support the body camera program in Alexandria, but both of those together are still greatly overshadowed by the estimated $13 million total cost of the program.

Photo via Tony Webster/Flickr