Buffalo, N.Y. - 2 On Your Side has learned that the Buffalo Police Department will equip a limited number of its officers with body cameras starting early next year.
The city, in conjunction with the police union and the district attorney's office, has been studying the use of body cameras for over a year now.
The group has been looking into what other cities have done, as well as how much it would cost not only to buy the cameras, but to store the video. It has also been looking into how many new employees it would have to hire to deal with requests for videos from the D.A.'s office, defense attorneys, the public and the media.
Scott Brown has learned that the city has decided to to equip 20 officers with the cameras under a pilot program.
It hasn't been decided yet how the 20 officers will be chosen or whether they would come from a specific unit.
So, what kind of impact can the use of body cameras have on policing? Some preliminary studies show that it can be fairly dramatic. Not only do complaints by citizens against police go down, but the use of force by officers against the public goes down as well.
The city declined to comment about the program.
But here's what we do know:
- The pilot program is expected to last between six months and a year.
- It's estimated that to fully implement the program would cost the city about one million dollars every year, which would include equipping about all 500 patrol officers with cameras, as well as a storage system and the hiring of perhaps four new employees to handle the requests for video.
The city is expected to issue Requests For Proposals before the end of the year from vendors across the country for both the cameras and a storage system for the videos.
It's estimated that half of all big cities around the country equip at least some percentage of their officers with body cameras.