Boston police have announced that nearly 200 officers will don body cameras Monday, as the department begins to roll out a new program.
The cameras will be deployed to 193 officers who are assigned to District C-6 in South Boston, District C-11 in Dorchester, and the youth violence strike force, according to a statement from the department on Friday. Officers in other districts will wear the cameras at later dates that have yet to be determined, according to a department spokesman.
The cameras are intended to be used for all vehicle stops, investigative stops, reasonable suspicion stops, or stops supported by probable cause, authorities said. The technology will also be used for all dispatched service calls that involve contact with civilians, on-site detentions, arrests, initial suspect interviews on scene, transport of prisoners, pat frisks, and searches of persons incident to arrest, the department said.
The cameras are also intended to capture all incidents of emergency and pursuit driving, whenever an officer thinks a crowd control incident “may result in unlawful activity,” and “any contact that becomes adversarial,” including instances of use of force.
“This new technology is an opportunity to showcase and enhance the department’s commitment to transparency while further strengthening the level of trust that exists between the men and women of the Boston Police Department and our community,” said the department in the statement.
The leader of a community group that has advocated for body cameras is happy the program is finally moving forward.
“It took us almost five years to get here,” said Segun Idowu, co-organizer of the Boston Police Camera Action Team . He said he looks forward to the program eventually being implemented across the city.
“Body cameras are supposed to improve trust between the community and police officers,” he said.
As the program expands, Idowu would also like to see the department and the city continue to engage with the community and implement their feedback.
“We’re all about the policy at the end of the day,” Idowu said.
Officers, according to the department, are given discretion to turn the camera off “in order to protect sensitive information, privacy of individuals, or due to confidentiality concerns,” the department said. Officers can decide to turn the camera on during “any citizen contact of official duty circumstance.”
As the program rollout starts, there will be uniformed officers without cameras, police said, including supervisors and detectives, officers performing a paid detail or working overtime, and detectives performing a uniformed paid detail or working overtime. Officers not assigned to districts C-6 and C-11 or the youth violence strike force will also not be wearing the cameras at first, according to the department.
Friday’s announcement comes weeks after Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the body camera program would start to take effect soon.
The rollout of the program marks the end of the long process to bring body cameras to the city’s police force. Walsh and police leaders initially hedged on adding the cameras, despite significant community advocacy in favor of them. Following a pilot program that concluded last year, he ultimately agreed the cameras brought “small but meaningful benefits” to police interactions.
The program’s implementation was further delayed by negotiations with the union representing patrol officers, which opposed the cameras.
Attempts to reach the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association were not immediately successful Friday or Saturday.