In response to the lack of indictments on Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo, large protests in major cities across the United States, including a protest that turned violent in San Diego and a protest that stopped traffic in downtown New York City.
The outrage has led to President Barack Obama announcing a proposal for $243 million dollars to be allocated to on uniform cameras for police officers, in an attempt to create physical evidence for their arrests, instead of relying on eye-witness testimony. The NYPD began a pilot program Friday, placing 27 cameras on their officers around New York City. Next Friday, the group of officers will change. The cameras and their maintenance for the pilot program were donated by the Police Foundation, who estimates about $50,000 in costs.
From a cost-benefit analysis point of view for the NYPD, each camera costs between $200-$1000 (depending on the quality), plus the maintenance costs (estimated at $100 per camera per year), in addition to the cost of maintaining all of the video evidence for up to two years, is estimated to cost $75 million. However, the NYPD paid out roughly $152 million in 2013 as a result to claims of police misconduct. If the cameras work as a deterrence for policemen to abuse their power, it is likely that they are an economically sound investment.
One last thing to consider, however, is the manpower that will be needed to maintain the video evidence and respond to the amount of requests for video footage to be released. Seattle has launched a similar program, and is considering shutting it down as it is inundated with requests for the film from particular arrests. The costs associated with these requests may tip the scale against the cameras (from a monetary point of view only).
By Ben Zeitz