Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $8,000)
The Department of Public Safety at the University of Southern Maine (DPS) firmly believes in transparency and accountability as a foundation in building and maintaining community trust and agency legitimacy. Body-worn camera (BWC) use has been identified in both national and local reports on modern policing as a means to improve policing as it relates to transparency, accountability and trust according to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
The University of Southern Maine, located on three campuses – in two of Maine’s largest cities in Portland and Lewiston as well as a historic campus in the Portland suburb of Gorham - has a vibrant and diverse population. The University has made police-community relations a top priority through a strong community-oriented policing program. This BWC initiative is a key component to enhance community relations, build on public trust and demonstrate our commitment to transparency and accountability. There is broad-based community support for this initiative, as evidenced by a recently enacted community survey.
This program’s goals will be to:
Deploy BWCs to officers who regularly interact with the public in enforcement capacities.
Improve high quality public service; and promote the perceived legitimacy, sense of fairness, and procedural justice the community has about DPS.
Improve management of digital evidence, to ensure identification, retention, accessibility of evidence that is relevant to enforcement activities, and the conduct of DPS officers.
Incorporate the BWC program into policy and training development.
Implement strong policies to ensure proper and credible use of BWCs.
Establish a continuing BWC program that remains technologically current and financially sustainable.
The deliverables for this BWC program include:
Deployment of BWCs to DPS officers.
A current and reliable digital technology infrastructure.
A strong policy and an ongoing training program for BWC use.
An intensive program evaluation.
A broad communications program to promote ongoing community and public education.
The successful implementation of this BWC program will produce positive outcomes for the University community, DPS, and the criminal justice system. Our responsiveness to the community in making this program a reality will greatly enhance police-community relations, improve transparency, and promote agency legitimacy going forward.