Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $91,099)
A serious problem confronting law enforcement today is the public’s loss of trust in police officers. The American Fork Police Department (“AFPD”) serves the communities of American Fork and Cedar Hills, Utah, which have a combined population of 43,244 and cover an area of 12 square miles. Even within the small jurisdiction of AFPD, it is vital to build relationships of trust with the public. In today’s world, that means maintaining a sustainable body-worn camera (“BWC”) program.
AFPD was a pioneer in body-worn camera use and has had a BWC program since 2007. In 2016, the program was revitalized by new Department leadership who supported an enhanced BWC program, and AFPD was fortunate enough to receive the support of federal funding, which it matched with its own funds. This allowed the Department to enter into a five-year contract for body-worn cameras, and make many enhancements to its program. However, this contract is due to expire in June of 2022, and due to rising costs and the economic impact of COVID-19, the City has not yet budgeted for a line item for the BWC program to fully fund its operations. AFPD is again faced with the dilemma of how to renew its BWC contract without the funding. With the support of the BJA funding, the Department is confident that, after the grant period ends, the City will be able to budget for the BWC program.
The goal of AFPD’s enhanced BWC program is to establish a standard of accountability and transparency in order to improve public relationships. AFPD will accomplish this goal through these objectives: 1) establish a working relationship with the TTA provider, 2) assure that all BWC policies and practices are consistent with aplicable state and local laws, 3) develop a planned and phased approach to implementation, 4) implement operational procedures and tracking mechanism, 5) demonstrate commitment to incorporating the evidentiary value of BWCs and DEM, 6) establish training protocols, and 7) address access to and sharing of BWC footage.
AFPD has worked closely with prosecutors for years to use the DME from body-worn cameras in the prosecution of cases, and has entered into a memorandum of understanding with them to formalize both parties’ commitment to the BWC program.
Body-worn camera use within the community has already had a positive impact. As awareness of the enhanced BWC program grows, AFPD anticipates that both the number of citizen-officer complaints and use of force incidents will be reduced. This expected outcome will be measured and reported as required.