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DOJ Announces $20 Million for Police Body Cams

DOJ Announces $20 Million for Police Body Cams

Is Obama working toward his promised “civilian national security force”?

When Al Sharpton called for the nationalization of America’s police forces earlier this month, many were quick to dismiss him as reactionary or even radical.  However, it may be worth revisiting this point in light of the news that the DOJ is going to be spending $20 million in body cams for police.  As Ed Morrissey notes:

This is another step in the de facto nationalization of police forces under the aegis of the DoJ. Milwaukee’s Sheriff David Clarke warned about that earlier in the week, and this is another soft step in that direction. The $20 million pilot program will almost certainly have to expand significantly in order to have an impact, and the DoJ will end up imposing it as a standard through the enforcement of their Civil Rights Division. That erodes the kind of local control that keeps police forces responsive to their own communities, much the same way that the avalanche of mandates from the Department of Education has done to school boards around the country. This is a decision that should be left to states and local communities.

When any entity takes money or resources from the federal government, it automatically becomes subject to regulations, restrictions, mandates, and oversight by the feds.  We see this in education both at the K-12 and the university level, in health care, even in senior centers where residents have been told they cannot pray before meals because their senior center receives federal funding.

It is worrying, then, when the federal government decides to step in and provide body cams for local and state police.  The issue is not whether the cameras are a good idea; people on both sides of the aisle tend to agree that the cams will help resolve questions about police activities quickly, before incidents become inflamed.  The problem is the role of the federal government in local and state policing.  Do we really want a nationalized police force?

And why is Al Sharpton the one out there floating the idea?

It could be, as Politico reported, that Sharpton has become Obama’s “go to man on race” since the Trayvon Martin shooting and the Ferguson riots.  Indeed, according to the Daily Mail, Obama met with Sharpton and with his cabinet, in December of last year, to discuss a much broader (and more expensive) agenda for the militarization of the nation’s police: a $263 million plan that included outfitting police not only with body cams but military equipment and training.

Sharpton’s role in the Obama presidency is not fully understood, in no small part because our media traded their role as watch dog for lap dog,  but he has logged, as of last December, 61 visits to the White House.  Even Juan Williams is amazed that Sharpton is “in with the President of the United States”:

It’s certainly noteworthy that Sharpton is “in” with Obama, and it makes his announcement that we need to federalize the nation’s police carry all the more weight.

The latest announcement by the DOJ prompted me to go back and listen again to Obama’s 2008 speech in which he declared that “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set.   We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” (at 16:43).

There was a lot of speculation about what he might have meant by that, though not a lot of follow-up by members of the press, and eventually, many people seemed to forget that he promised to establish a “civilian national security force” equal to our military.

I wonder if it’s possible, with the increasing federal involvement in local and state police, that we’re seeing yet another fundamental transformation begin to take shape as state and local police come under the federal umbrella?



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Ragspierre | May 3, 2015 at 2:43 pm

First, body cams are NOT an unalloyed “good idea”. There are some real sound issues that they raise, including privacy issues.

Second, who says who controls the footage?

Take note…

That’s pretty much a thumb in the eye of the public.

Third, the Constitution…that old written thing…really forbids a federal…or even federalized…police force. That is a state power. (See the period.)

I would not take the money for the cameras. Screw Obama, the thugs in his cabinet, and their Collective horses.

    I think that’s the answer, Rags. Local and state law enforcement should not take the federal money; heck, I know everyone in my neck of the woods would chip in for body cams (not that they’re needed around here) if our local agencies “couldn’t afford” them.

      Eskyman in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 3, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Agree with you both, Ragspierre and Fuzzy Slippers; that’s the answer all right, but it’s also the problem. How do we stop the states, counties, cities- from taking FREE FEDERAL $$$! Which of course always, always comes with strings attached.

      I can see some Republican states doing that, but CA? They would take everything they could get & ask for more.

      Ragspierre in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | May 4, 2015 at 11:04 am

      Well…and you know this…there is no such thing as a “free” Federal dollar. First, they ALL come from us, and second, they ALL come with nets to ensnare.

      How do we stop it? We elect strong Conservatives to our state and local governments, and we say, “We are willing to pay for our own public safety. NO Federal money here.”

      Kuhlifornia is gone. Fineto. Nothing for it but the clean-up.

TX-rifraph | May 3, 2015 at 3:15 pm

The Stasi motto was(translated) “Shield and Sword of the Party.”

The Obama Neo-Stasi (or maybe just O-Stasi or Ostasi) motto will be “Shield and Sword of the Democrat Party.” Their efficiency and effectiveness will make Woodrow Wilson look like a piker.

    tom swift in reply to TX-rifraph. | May 3, 2015 at 4:15 pm


    That’s pretty good.

    We lucked out when Wilson popped over to Europe to see how thoroughly he could screw things up “over there”. It kept him from working his magic too thoroughly over here.

Somebody is going to make a LOT of money off those contracts. I wonder who?

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Valerie. | May 3, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    There would probably be more than one contractor, and they all would make HUGE donations to the ‘rat party.

    Count on it.

    It’s just another money-laundering scheme to send taxpayer money to the ‘rats.

    Further, the feds would then control evidence according to their political whim.

    tom swift in reply to Valerie. | May 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Well, $20 million won’t go very far when administered by the feds.

Well, certainly, our Federal Government has absolutely no legal foundation, whatsoever, to arbitrarily and unilaterally seize all Police and Sheriff Departments from sea-to-shining-sea and assume control over all of them. None. However, our current insidious Government can do all sorts of things to compel such a demise of local law enforcement agencies.

While a few States and their Counties, Cities and Townships would definitely voluntarily go for it with spastic glee, there is no way in this fresh new heII of ours that all 50 States in our Constitutional Republic along with all US Territories are going to just surrender their Sovereignty to the morbidly obese and direly corrupt US Federal Government and the even more corrupt DoJ on demand.

Besides, what does Al Sharpton think is going to happen, that Blacks will all of a sudden stop being investigated for crimes they’re suspected of taking part in and stop being arrested for crimes they’ve committed, and that any member of even a ‘National Police Force’ on any given day in any given community is just going to stand there and permit themselves and/or the public to be harmed or even killed, and never shoot a Black person ever again?

National Police Force or not, it’s still the very same people doing the very same job under the very same circumstances in the very same communities with the very same people no matter what the patches and badge on the uniform says.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to FlatFoot. | May 3, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    With a useless congress excfl of ‘pubs with little power, and the country primed against the cops now, how hard would it really be to overturn the Tenth Amendment? Easy? No. Doable? Possibly. Use some other means to achieve fed control other than overturning the Tenth Amendment? Absolutely.

Looks like Obama may be “nailing his colours to the mast” a little at a time. Wonder how many “Democrats” go along with him? Hard to believe America and the West won the Cold War.

    JPL17 in reply to Whitewall. | May 4, 2015 at 9:43 am

    “Won the cold war”?

    What, you think all those Soviet agents planted in the U.S. government, unions, academia, and the press, *surrendered*??? Like Japanese soldiers after WWII, no one told them the cold war was *over*.

Midwest Rhino | May 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Not taking the free stuff may be one solution for maintaining more local control, but the federal government shouldn’t be given the power (or funds) to coerce the states.

Justice Roberts iirc, stated this about the Medicaid money couldn’t be withheld as coercion to get states to adopt the state Obamacare programs. Instead they coerced the states with funding for the programs, only if the states ran the program. But then that didn’t work when states refused, so they changed the law, and hence the case before the court now (or was that settled during all the smoke and mirrors?).

But just as withholding funds as coercion is illegal (in that case at least), the rewarding of funds for only the subservient should not be legal. That is punishment to those that don’t submit, as they still must fund the others.

“Just Say No” is not good enough, we have to make it all illegal, for DC to tax all states in order to fund only states that comply with their mandates. The DC pushers use free stuff as their drug, get the mobs hooked, then they own them. Got damn, the pusher man. heh

Whatever else this might mean, it is obvious that DoJ does not need a budget increase next time around. And it might be interesting to know for what purpose this 20 mil was SUPPOSED to be used.

I find it fascinating how little attention is paid to fed departments using their budgets as a slush fund.

Yep, who’ll control that vast library of cop cam videos? More importantly, who’ll edit that contents and who’ll get to decide what is keep or not.

Yep, a cop cam might be a good thing to have in some circumstances but maybe not all. The comments above about state control really get to the heart of the matter and that strongly states that federal funding of this is improper.

Federal funding with its gotcha hooks is pretty much the root of much federal interference evil that now exists in our country.

    “…who’ll control that vast library of cop cam videos?” That would be the Ministry of Truth, of course.

    Doug asked: “More importantly, who’ll edit that contents and who’ll get to decide what is keep or not.”

    What, are you new around here or something? President Hillary will of course be in charge of all editing and deleting of records of all kinds. Cuz she’s just that good at it, what with all the previous on-the-job experience.

The Civil Rights Division of DOJ has outlived whatever usefulness it once had, is out of control, and should be shut down.

A GOP President should do that in his first 100 days. By the time he is up for reelection, the dire apartheid the Democrats and race pimps are sure to predict will not have materialized.

Save millions and buy one body cam, and attach it to Obama to document his treason.

Pure symbolism. Twenty million dollars. From an article in from late last year, it puts up the cost your really talking about.

“…A quality body camera can cost around $1000, once you’ve bought the charging/docking cradles, maybe an extra battery or two, and the hardware necessary to mate the camera to the officer/user’s shirt, shoulder, or head. They’re reasonably sturdy devices, and should be good for a few years.

The gift that keeps on giving here is the video those cameras produce. That video consumes a lot of disk space, and there will be more every day.

Adding it Up

Here’s a calculation based on a 50-officer agency: say 60% of your cops work on a typical day, and each produces an average of four hours of video. If the video is encoded at 640×480 VGA (the format stored by the TASER AXON system, one of the more popular models) it’s going to take up 15-20 MB of space per minute (TASER may compress the video better than that— this is just an estimation). That’s just over 1 GB per hour, times four hours, times 30 cops, times three shifts: 360 GB per day, more than a terabyte every three days, ten terabytes per month.

How long do you want to keep that video on file before you delete it? If you say “forever,” get ready to write an increasingly large check each month. If you can live with, say, three months, that’s about 30 terabytes worth of storage, plus whatever you keep around for open cases.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the largest cloud storage services in the world. Netflix uses them for their trove of streaming video. There are a lot of variables, but the figure I got for keeping this volume of video online with AWS, creating a new volume at the end of each sift, is $6260.79. Apply whatever multiples you might need for more cops or a longer retention interval.

It’s easy to see that the cost of purchasing the body cameras is almost trivial compared to the price tag for maintaining the video archive….”


Now how many cops are out there? Per the DOJ, America has as of 2008 765K full time peace officers (plus 100K reservist) (Source:

Say one third of the full timers work patrol that’s around 255K (not counting reservist in this). The cost of just outfitting that number of officers with cameras is 255M. Assume that half already have one, that’s around 125M every two years. Again, this doesn’t even begin to add in the cost of storage. So yes, this is eyewash for the low information people out there.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to MikeAT. | May 3, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    They figure a high cost for every item, and figure on storing every hour of video, at a rather high cost. They really only need to keep records of actual arrests or confrontations, and not all of those. That might be a couple GB a day per cop on the street, and it could be kept on normal on site servers unless it was a special incident. At $50/TB that is nothing … fill it up, throw it in a box.

    I started using a recorder in my truck, it records in segments and just loops over itself, a 32GB mini card (about $16) holds about six hours. Nice HD quality with audio cost like $50. Tech keeps getting better and cheaper … in a year they will have something wearable and small for $100, if they don’t already.

    But yeah, if they have a good snitch like Freddie, do they really want everything recorded? And do the bad guys need to be able to study the methods of the cops? Maybe they record but only need to turn in segments where there is physical harm, or for a statement of guilt … not every word they say.

TX-rifraph | May 3, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Cops sometimes show up at embarrassing situations. Out of respect for the citizen, he/she will cancel backup officers to minimize the impact on somebody. Only one outsider cop knows. How horrible for the citizen to have the situation on video. I am not sure I would ever want to talk to a cop wearing a camera as it changes a personal interaction into a public interaction. Very bad idea cameras are. Even worse when in the hands of the DOSJ (Department of Social Justice).

    Eskyman in reply to TX-rifraph. | May 3, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks for that comment, TX-rifraph! I had not thought of that aspect at all, so it gave me lots to think about. Now I wonder what other points of view I’ve overlooked.

    At first I was all in favor of the notion that all cops must have a cam when interacting with public, and I’m still leaning that way- but there are a whole lot of pitfalls involved in protecting the citizen against the police and vice-versa. So I’m still weighing that up, glad you opened my eyes.

    Concerning the Freddie Gray case, I do think there should have been a cam inside the transport vehicle, and in all paddy wagons/cruisers, wherever prisoners are kept. At least that’s what hindsight tells me!

      TX-rifraph in reply to Eskyman. | May 4, 2015 at 4:44 am

      Perhaps body cams only in public places (the street, police transport vans, etc.) and not in private places (homes)where a person does have an expectation of privacy? The cops are often inside a home in a safety capacity (stop a fight before it escalates) and not in a LE capacity where somebody may be headed to jail. I think we need to respect the law of unintended consequences. The issue has many dimensions that need to be considered. The move by the DOSJ is considering only one.

    Ragspierre in reply to TX-rifraph. | May 4, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    I worry that if the police are going to be forced to wear body cameras, then they are going to be more reluctant to exercise judgment and discretion in how they enforce these laws because they might later be second-guessed, especially if it later turns out that there is some disparate impact in policing. And I suspect that these instances of police exercising discretion to not enforce laws are far more prevalent than the rare instances where matters go awry. I also recognize that the costs of the latter situation are much larger.

    So while I think the benefits of body cameras probably outweigh the costs overall, I fear that one unintended consequence will be that there will actually be more arrests, especially of people who don’t really deserve it.

    I think that likely, especially where revenue generation is the real goal.

Sad to notice that there’s some cowardly jerk hereabouts- a lot of perfectly sensible comments have been downthumbed.

I do wish those people had the courage to actually come out and say something, maybe even defend their ideas… but then they probably wouldn’t be progressives, would they. Sigh.

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 3, 2015 at 10:30 pm

How much money is being appropriated for new CCTV cameras for high crime and high volme areas?

Seems they want to watch the cops but not the criminals,

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 3, 2015 at 10:52 pm

One thing to thing of. Watching the NFL, with all it’s cameras and expensive operators adjusting camera angles to get maximum coverage, how often do you think “yeah that’s a touchdown” or “yeah that’s a fumble” … and then decide you were wrong after the third camera angle?

Think it will be better for body cams?

healthguyfsu | May 4, 2015 at 12:05 am

Man, why did I sell my stock in TASR???