Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,200,000)
The current problem facing law enforcement is the critical need for public safety agencies to enhance transparency and accountability and improve police services to improve interactions with the public. Community policing efforts to address this need, and continue to build community trust, are directly linked to the need to incorporate improved technology. The Orlando Police Department (OPD) has been very proactive in addressing this problem through multiple methods of review and improvements in transparency. One of the programs implemented by the Orlando Police Department is its body-worn camera program.
The goal of OPD’s BWC program is to enhance transparency and accountability and improve police services to improve interactions with the public. OPD began this program in 2014 with a very successful pilot program and in 2015 applied for and received federal funding, leveraging local funds, to fully implement its BWC program. However, the technology within the original equipment purchased in 2015 has since become outdated. In early 2021, OPD began a 5-year contract for new, state-of-the art, body-worn cameras. These new cameras include the latest in auto-activation technology, which is tied to both firearm and Taser activation and use, to ensure the most critical incidents are captured from start to finish. This automatic "turn on" feature allows officers to focus on the immediate action in front of them without needing to push a button to record the situation. This technology also activates all body-worn cameras on the scene to turn on and record when a firearm or Taser is removed from an OPD officer's holster. These improved cameras also provide for live streams, extended battery life, and unlimited cloud storage. Body-worn cameras also facilitate with immediate review of incidents and provide additional training for officers on procedures including de-escalation, customer support, positive peer recognition, and training re-enforcement. The system also utilizes cloud support for fast data retrieval. These enhanced features on the next generation BWCs enhance officer-public interactions, improve transparency, build community trust, and strengthen its community policing efforts. Federal funding is being requested to assist in the City’s purchase of these new BWCs, related equipment, and storage, by funding the next year of the contract.