SEATTLE (Sept. 21, 2015) – Today, the United Stated Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded the Seattle Police Department (SPD) a $600,000 grant to implement an expanded body-worn camera program.
“Today’s announcement by the Justice Department is a huge boost to the Seattle Police Department’s efforts to improve community policing and strengthen accountability,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We know body cameras reduce the number of complaints against officers and reduce the use of force by police. I am proud of Seattle’s continued leadership as a national model for police reform.”
Earlier this year, SPD conducted its own six-month pilot of body-worn camera equipment and made some of the recorded footage available to the public on a YouTube channel. Seattle police also participated in the White House Police Data Initiative as part of an overall effort to enhance transparency and accountability in law enforcement.
In the coming months, the department will further develop the policies and protocols for the cameras with a broad range of community stakeholders, including Seattle Police Officers Guild, the Department of Justice, the federal monitor, the Community Police Commission and others.
“Body-worn video technology is incredibly important to our communities and our officers,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We are grateful for this assistance from the Department of Justice, and are excited to continue our work enhancing transparency, accountability, and community trust.”
“I have said this from day one that body cameras are a game changer for police accountability, public safety, and as a training tool to improve policing performance,” said Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “Police accountability advocates such as Campaign Zero, Seattle legislative districts and community leaders have asked for body cameras and this is great news. On behalf of the Council, I thank President Obama and his administration for allocating this funding. We will work towards complete funding in the upcoming budget process. Without question, our work continues building stronger community ties but it starts with clear impartial video evidence of police and civilian interactions. Body camera data from other police departments have seen use of force reduced by 60 percent.”
In today’s round of grant announcements, DOJ awarded $23.2 million to 73 local and tribal agencies in 32 states to expand the use of body-worn cameras and explore their impact. The grants, which require a 50/50 in-kind or cash match, can be used to purchase equipment and require that applicants establish a strong implementation plan and a robust training policy before purchasing cameras. The long term costs associated with storing this information will be the financial responsibility of each local agency.
For additional information from the Department of Justice, visit: http://www.bja.gov/bwc/pdfs/BWCPIP-Award-Fact-Sheet.pdf.