- A body camera on an Ada County Sheriff's deputy
According to a press release by the DoJ's Bureau of Justice Assistance, Twin Falls is one of 73 cities, police departments, tribal agencies and other law enforcement entities across 32 states to receive money through a $23.2 million pilot program that will purchase 50,000 police officer body cameras over a three-year period.
"This vital pilot program is designed to assist local jurisdictions that are interested in exploring and expanding the use of body-worn cameras in order to enhance transparency, accountability and credibility," wrote U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the release.
Law enforcement agencies participating in the program must provide the DoJ with training and implementation programs. The funds are part of a 50-50 matching grant, which means Twin Falls—the only city in Idaho to receive funds through the program—will invest a total of $180,000 in body cameras as part of the pilot program.
In August 2014, the Ada County Sheriff's Department announced it would spend $70,000 on body cameras and related technologies, like video storage and maintenance. In an email, then-Interim Director of ACLU-Idaho Leo Morales hailed the purchase as a step toward public safety and police accountability.
"We believe that body-mounted cameras can both protect the officer and the citizen," he wrote in an email. "The cameras should be turned on at all times when the officer has an encounter with the citizen in the public domain. If officers are allowed to use their discretion of when to turn on or turn off the camera, then this discretion can lead to creative editing of what they film."
The city of Coeur d'Alene has also equipped its officers with body cameras, but in Boise, Chief Bill Bones told Boise Weekly, "I absolutely love them," but expressed some reservations about the technology, noting that "redaction issues" to protect the privacy of people and property caught on police body cams could add more than $250,000 to the BPD budget each year. Nevertheless, Bones said the public should expect to see body cameras on BPD officers in the near future.