AP: Fairfax County Police move forward on body camera plan

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by | April 30, 2020

From the Associated Press

Virginia’s most populous county is moving ahead this week with its plan to outfit police officers with body-worn cameras.

Fairfax Police Chief Edwin Roessler said the first phase of the three-year program to outfit officers with cameras begins on Friday. Officers, prosecutors and public defenders have all been training on how to use the system.

That first phase begins with more than 400 cameras being put into service. Plans call for similar numbers of cameras to be phased in for each of the next two years.

Year one of the project costs about $4.3 million. Finishing the program over the next two years will require an additional $6.7 million.

This move is notable, because as mentioned above, Fairfax is Virginia’s largest jurisdiction. This means a program of a much larger size and scope (and cost) than would be required for many other jurisdictions.

Such a program is not as simple as slapping a camera on a vest. It requires developing policies for officers (when must the cameras be turned on, when can they be turned off?), as well storage and review of the footage. Departments need to be aware that these cameras will capture a lot of sensitive footage, of the accused, of victims, and also of police procedures.

Beyond the officers actually wearing the cameras, other parties in the criminal justice system- prosecutors, defense attorneys, even Judges- will have to learn how to use this new source of evidence.

More on Body Cameras in Virginia: Here.