Washington, DC police offers ready to test body cameras

Brian Warmoth --- In The Capital 

Body cameras on police officers have become a popular proposal for police departments across the U.S. since the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The incident prompted a wave of criticism over the kinds of military hand-me-downs that American police departments use – as well as support for the added check on power that uniform-mounted cameras can provide. Well, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is going to give them a shot.

The department plans to begin issuing $280,000 worth of the body cameras as of Oct. 1, The Washington Times reports. The move shouldn't be read as a direct response to the Ferguson situation, since order for equipment had already been placed before Brown was shot. It does, however, come at a timely point in the national discussion about how police officers exercise authority within their communities.

The tech has been purchased from VIEVU LLC, Wolfcom Enterprises and TASER International Inc., and more than $2 million has been tagged for associated costs such as servers and data storage, according to The Times.

So what will D.C. get out of this investment? Well, it's too early to say for sure, but there is good reason to believe these devices could have a positive impact. Police in Rialto, California, began suing body cameras in 2012, and the department saw complaints against officers go down by 88 percent. It also experienced a decline of 60 percent in instances where officers were found to have used force.

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