Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $2,000,000)
Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) have increasingly become a tool utilized by law enforcement and correctional agencies to improve the quality of evidence, increase the safety and accountability of officers, reduce and resolve false allegations, as well as positively affect public trust and police legitimacy. The Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MADOC) aims to expand the use of BWC technology across all fourteen of its correctional facilities with the goal of increasing the safety, efficiency, and accountability of officers, the level of care for incarcerated individuals, and the trust of the public. A two-hundred- seventy-seven percent increase in assaults, that have taken place behind the walls of Massachusetts correctional facilities between 2017 and 2019, highlights the need for a technology that can not only deter assaultive and criminal behavior, but swiftly and efficiently prevent further harm through procedural and prosecutorial means evidenced by clear and definitive audio and visual recordings. In the spring/summer of 2022, the MADOC will conduct a BWC pilot program at its Suoza-Baranowski Correctional Center. Information obtained and analyzed from the pilot program, including the procurement of the most effective BWC platform, will guide the department in its’ goal of equipping every officer with a BWC department wide. This federal grant will be used (a) to buy 3086 BWCs during the three-year grant period, (b) to expend upon the current pilot BWC program, (c) there will be no subrecipient agencies that will receive funding for BWC purchase or lease. Data collected during the three-year grant period, will be used to fine tune practices at MADOC, creating a stronger path for future expansion of the BWC program. BWC’s will serve to increase the safety, security, and transparency of Massachusetts correctional facilities, while also serving to increase officer training, public trust, and just outcomes. Through the use of BWC’s, the MADOC expects to increase the collection of clear and sound evidence to assist in convictions for serious violations, increase, identify, and expand best practices in a correctional setting, and promote safer, evidence based correctional care. Data, derived from the ongoing use of BWC technology, will not only serve to increase the safe and secure operations of Massachusetts correctional facilities, but will also inform other states’ agencies who wish to implement similar technology, offering valuable benefits to multiple parties. This information is likely to include various prison climate metrics, implementation challenges and success, as well as lessons learned.