Yesterday, the White House announced a number of initiatives for "strengthening community policing." One of the initiatives will provide funding for police body cameras (emphasis added):
The President also proposes a three-year $263 million investment package that will increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs), add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where DOJ facilitates community and local LEA engagement. As part of this initiative, a new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program would provide a 50 percent match to States/localities who purchase body worn cameras and requisite storage. Overall, the proposed $75 million investment over three years could help purchase 50,000 body worn cameras. The initiative as a whole will help the federal government efforts to be a full partner with state and local LEAs in order to build and sustain trust between communities and those who serve and protect these communities.
Earlier this year, WBZ reported that as many as 50 Massachusetts police departments were considering adopting body cameras.
I'm not aware of any Massachusetts police departments that have adopted the technology yet, but I imagine this program will increase the likelihood that a number of them will. Some police departments, such as the Massachusetts State Police, have said they will not adopt body cameras because it would cost too much money. Perhaps this program would make them reconsider.
Body cameras could become just another tool for government surveillance, but if used properly, they can help resolve disputed incidents. For instance, police shootings like the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri where there are contradictory eyewitness accounts could be resolved in a matter of minutes with video recorded by body cameras.
As long as police put regulations in place to ensure that body cameras do not invade the public's privacy and are transparent with videos about controversial events, they will probably be a net positive.