Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $159,888)
The City of Salem, Massachusetts, located in Essex County in the northeast section of the state, has a population of 43,226 and is the 28th largest city in the state. The city is approximately eight (8) square miles of land and over ten (10) square miles of ocean. The Salem Police Department is comprised of approximately sixty-five (65) patrol officers and twenty-seven (27) superior officers who maintain law enforcement jurisdiction over the city. We are dedicated to improving accountability of our law enforcement efforts to the citizens of Salem. To increase transparency, we are in the process of instituting a NEW body-worn camera (BWC) program to record enforcement, investigate crime, and monitor encounters between our officers and the public. This system will improve officer safety and communication in stressful environments. It will provide a factual account of events that can be used to better determine the outcome of controversial encounters. In numerous studies commissioned by the Department of Justice, the wearing of body-cameras has proven to be invaluable to law enforcement. As an example, a California police department found a 90% decrease in citizen complaints against officers who wore body cameras. Many community stakeholders and criminal justice leaders have suggested that placing BWCs on police officers improves the civility of police-citizen encounters and enhances citizen perceptions of police transparency and legitimacy. In response, many police departments have adopted this technology to improve the quality of policing in their communities. In addition, cost-benefit analysis has revealed savings from reduced complaints against officers and reduced the time required to resolve such complaints. This has translated into substantial cost savings for police departments.
We have been collaborating with various body-worn camera companies in an effort to identify and vet the most functionally sound operating system and select a vendor that has a track record of providing quality service. After testing and evaluating equipment and software from numerous companies, we have determined that Axon Enterprise, Inc. has the best reputation and most dependable system. Their equipment has been deployed in neighboring communities with excellent results. We are currently in negotiations with our patrolman’s and superior officer’s unions to agree upon the manner in which the system will be implemented, establish guidelines and policies for implementation and use, and settle any financial/staffing obligations. We will follow all federal, state, & local procurement laws. The 1:1 cash match required of this grant will be well funded by the City of Salem. We anticipate starting implementation of a BWC system by the end of 2021.