BPD body cam delays seen as 'troubling'
Some critics believe the department could launch the program, outfitting all beat cops with cameras, while also studying it and changing practices as needed
By Antonio Planas and Dan Atkinson
BOSTON — Boston police could spend as much as $200,000 to extend their initial six-month study of body cameras for another year, according to a request for proposals seeking bids.
Critics have blasted the department and Mayor Martin J. Walsh for not fully implementing the program, claiming the delay put the issue on the back burner until after the mayoral election.
Walsh’s office released a statement earlier this week announcing the extension of the pilot program, begun last September, by another six months. The request for proposals, however, lays out a full additional year of study. A police spokesman said the testing of cameras by 100 officers would end in September, but the study of data would continue for another six months after that.
Rahsaan Hall with the ACLU of Massachusetts said the ongoing delays in implementation are troubling.
“We’re very concerned that this does not become a trend in further delaying the full implementation of a body-worn camera program,” Hall said. “We appreciate the desire to have good and meaningful data to study. At the same time, roll it out.”
Hall said he believes the department could launch the program, outfitting all beat cops with cameras, while also studying it, then changing practices as needed.
BPD’s request for proposal caps the spending at $200,000. The request was issued Monday and the bid deadline is March 31.
“The purpose of this evaluation is to assist in understanding how body-worn cameras influence the civility of police-citizen interactions, the lawfulness of police work, police officer proactivity and their attitudes towards the technology, and community perceptions. ... The Department is looking to learn if body cameras significantly reduce the number of complaints against police and incidents of police use of force,” the request states. “Funding will be provided for up to one year.”
There are 100 officers from the gang unit and five districts wearing cameras on duty.
Northeastern University researchers are studying BPD’s pilot program.
Police spokesman Lt. Detective Michael McCarthy said in an email yesterday that those researchers “were given short initial funds or have worked pro-bono to help with the design and measurables for our on-going data collection and future analysis. Given our procurement laws, an official bid for research evaluation funding is required.”
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