Police officers in Delaware will participate in a month-long trial using body cameras as part of an effort to provide transparency and protection for law enforcement and the community they serve.
Wednesday’s announcement of the pilot program follows a Department of Safety and Homeland Security examination of the equipment’s benefits and challenges.
“It is my hope that in working with all law enforcement partners that we will be able to develop and implement a consistent statewide policy for the utilization, storage and management of police body cameras,” said DSHS Secretary Lew Schiliro in a statement.
State and municipal police officers will take part in a 30 to 45 day trial, using about a dozen body cameras throughout the state.
“I am convinced that effective use of body cameras can both help police officers and protect our citizens while strengthening trust between law enforcement and all of the communities they serve,” said Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware, in a statement.
Last year, Markell and Schiliro joined Col. Nate McQueen of the Delaware State Police and representatives of the NAACP to discuss how cameras could support law enforcement activities and the rights of Delaware citizens. They also discussed the need to address issues of privacy, procedure and technicality.
DSHS will ask camera manufacturers to provide 12 units as a part of the trial period so the state can determine how to develop various requirements for its usage.
The state says cameras should capture real-time activities of police officers, be capable of retaining those images and provide an information technology platform that allows for data record storage in a simple manner.
Despite the high purchase price of body cameras, Chief William Bryson, chairman of the Delaware Police Chiefs Council said he believes body cameras will be standard equipment for law enforcement officers in the foreseeable future.
Several departments in Delaware have already introduced body cameras into their agencies, including Ocean View, Smyrna and New Castle County.
“A review of this program will provide valuable information for the implementation of the equipment and finalization of the policy,” Bryson said in a statement.