Thursday, September 1, 2016

Status update on body camera funding

The SC General Assembly passed legislation at the end of the 2015 session that required law enforcement agencies to have body cameras. Agencies had until April 2016 to submit an application for body camera funding. The new camera mandate won’t apply until the General Assembly fully funds cameras for all agencies.

Between the FY15 and FY16 state budgets, the General Assembly appropriated a total of $5.8 million toward the $14 million in requests for body cameras made by 168 out of the 300 eligible law enforcement agencies in South Carolina.

The Public Safety Coordinating Council created an initial matrix that would ensure fairness among all the agencies making requests. First, the Criminal Justice Academy determined the number of certified officers in each agency (before the applications for funding were received).

Then, based on the numbers from the Academy, the PSCC set caps for the cameras at $600 each. It also created four tiers and established a formula percentage for each one (up to $600 max on each camera):
•    Tier 1 – Agencies with 1-24 officers/PSCC would fund 100 percent for the cost of the cameras selected
•    Tier 2 – Agencies with 25-50 officers/ PSCC would fund 100 percent
•    Tier 3 – Agencies with 51-149 officers/ PSCC would fund 75 percent
•    Tier 4 – Agencies with 150 officers or more/PSCC would fund 50 percent

After the applications came in and this formula was applied, the PSCC decided to use the leftover money to fund storage. It covered the storage cost requests for the Tiers 1, 2 and 3 agencies, but it was unable to do so for Tier 4.

The new law also required the state’s Law Enforcement Training Council to develop body camera policy guidelines for local law enforcement agencies. From these guidelines, agencies were required to create their own local body camera policies. 

Get background and more information about body cameras in these Uptown articles from November 2014 and October 2015. Read about the funding from the 2015-16 state budget

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