On the City Council’s Tuesday agenda is an item to authorize the purchase of body cameras for Alameda’s police force. Given the recent attention around excessive use of force by police officers around the country, the movement toward more accountability is a positive step. Recently, Alameda settled a case of excessive police force and in that case the officer was wearing a body camera (not purchased by the police department but the video was submitted into evidence).
While the existence of body cameras alone will not magically eliminate excessive force cases automatically in the world, what it does is ensure that there is some record of an interaction that may be in dispute.
Conveniently, NPR just ran a story about Taser, the company that the City of Alameda is looking to source the body cameras from, although this particular story was about cloud based storage for the data collected from the body cameras. From NPR:
But in the long run, the real money is in selling police a way to store all that video.
And Taser says it has a solution: At the end of the day, an officer unclips the body camera from his uniform and plugs it into a dock. From there, those videos are uploaded straight to Taser’s cloud service, called Evidence.com.
Traditionally, police departments have saved their videos to CDs, which get locked in an evidence room. But there’s so much police video now — body cams, dash cams, cameras in interview rooms.
The piece also mentions that Taser has been criticized for hiring former police chiefs in the past, but has now instituted a “cooling off period.”
Staff is arguing that going with Taser and their cloud storage system will reduce the need to have in house tech staff to manage the technology needs it would require to store the video in house, which makes sense because there was discussion at the budget meetings that the IT department is seriously understaffed and overworked.
Here’s the cost breakdown for the 80 cameras and the annual subscription fee for the cloud storage:
The total purchase price for this five year contract is $424,753. The Police Department will finance this purchase through TASER at zero percent interest for five years.
The first year’s disbursement of 173,329 will complete the acquisition of 80 cameras and will also encompass the annual fees for storing the Body-Camera data.
An annual fee of 62,856 for media storage will be disbursed in each of the subsequent four years of the Agreement. The total cost of this purchase by year is illustrated in the table below:
Equipment and media storage (tax and shipping included)
Equipment and media storage
The project will be funded with a combination of State COPs grant and departmental savings in the General Fund. Grant funding will cover the acquisition of the equipment of $110,473 in the first year. The remaining funds necessary to cover the entire cost of this purchase will be disbursed by transferring $314,280 in FY 14-15 departmental savings from the General Fund to the Equipment Replacement Fund. Although the full amount is available to cover the cost of the project, the City will be disbursing the payments to the vendor annually for the next five years as there is zero financing cost to the City.