At its regularly scheduled meeting Dec. 15, the Boise City Council quietly approved the purchase of body cameras
for the Boise Police Department.
"It's meeting that transparency desire the public has," said Boise Police Overseer Natalie Camacho-Mendoza. "Transparency is very important."
The purchase was approved as part of the council's consent agenda—which includes items typically voted on in a block without discussion—but today's vote approved a nearly $1.5 million, five-year contract with Taser International, Inc. to supply the cameras, as well as pay for cloud storage of video captured by the cameras and redaction software.
According to Boise Police Chief Bill Bones, the idea is to eventually have a body camera on every on-duty officer in the department.
"That would go up through the chief of police," he said. "If our officers are out in uniform and working, we'd like them to be wearing a body camera."
The roll out of the cameras will begin slowly, most likely in May 2016, with 25-30 cameras on patrol officers. Officers will record all enforcement contacts with the public, from traffic citations to felony arrests. Unedited footage will be available to defense attorneys and prosecutors. Sensitive information like suspects' faces, information on driver's licenses or victims of abuse will be redacted should footage be released in response to public records requests.
Bones said "working out a balance in our policy" that protects privacy while providing transparency to the public has been a challenge.
"The bigger concern for me from a community standpoint was privacy issues," he said.
Over the next five years, the department will issue cameras to every officer, except detectives and undercover police.