BOSTON (CBS) – Starting Monday, 193 Boston Police officers will wear body cameras on their uniforms.
Officers assigned to South Boston, Dorchester and the youth violence strike force will now have the cameras, which the department hopes will enhance transparency and strengthen trust in the community.
“The pilot program was very successful so no, this is here to stay,” said Police Commissioner William Gross. “Body-worn cameras are an inevitable technology and advancement of 21st century policing.”
The cameras will be turned on and recording during vehicle stops, when officers respond to a scene and during initial suspect interviews. They will also be used during pat frisks, pursuits and prisoner transports.
Boston police say officers will have discretion to turn the cameras on during any citizen interaction. They can also turn them off to protect sensitive information or a person’s privacy.
Officers who wore body cameras during a one-year pilot program received fewer complaints.
Mayor Marty Walsh said, “This is just another tool to have in working towards transparency here in the city of Boston.”
For Shekia Scott, co-founder of the Boston Police Camera Action Team, that transparency has been a long time coming. But she said the real test will be how the department’s policy, which allows officers to turn the cameras off at their discretion and review footage, works.
“People feel more comfortable when they can see ‘if an officer does this, they can be disciplined in that way’ and right now this policy doesn’t show that,” said Scott.
“Best case scenario would be to see the program on all officers but also to have a policy that reflects what the community asks for,” she added.
The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association has said in the past that they oppose the use of body cameras.
To buy 400 cameras, it cost $2 million. That will go up to about $8.5 million by the end of the program’s third year.