NEW YORK –Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced the creation of the CAMS (Capture an Account of a Material Situation) program, which will help equip local law-enforcement agencies in New York with body-worn cameras.

The CAMS program dedicates $2 million of funds seized as part of joint federal-state organized crime prosecutions to fund the purchase of body-worn cameras.

“Body cameras help ensure increased accountability and transparency during law enforcement interactions,” said Attorney General Underwood. “Yet too often, local police departments don’t have the resources to buy them. The CAMS Program will provide much-needed funding to local governments to purchase body cameras, benefitting all New Yorkers as we work to ensure safe and fair communities.”

In order to be eligible for funding, the local law-enforcement agency must:

  • Have between 130 and 3,000 sworn officers.
  • Be a local town, city, or county police agency (not a state agency).
  • Submit the online application by September 7, 2018.
  • Participate in the U.S. Department of Justice Equitable Sharing Program.
  • Be able to secure a cash match, covering 25% of the total spend amount.

Local law-enforcement agencies with 130 to 400 sworn officers can request up to $70,000 in grant funding, and are responsible for securing up to a $23,333.33 cash match. Local law-enforcement agencies with 401 to 3000 sworn officers can request up to $150,000 in grant funding, and are responsible for securing up to a $50,000.00 cash match. If a municipality allocated money to the participating law enforcement agency to create or expand a body-worn camera program in the most recent municipal budget, that allocation can count toward the 25% match; however, the OAG grant cannot be used to purchase cameras that the agency has already committed to purchase through the budget allocation.

In 2015, Executive Order No. 147 appointed the Attorney General as special prosecutor in incidents where a law enforcement officer causes the death of an unarmed civilian, or where there is a significant question as to whether the civilian was armed and dangerous. This led to the creation of the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit (SIPU) within the Attorney General’s office.

SIPU has launched investigations of several incidents across New York State and issued public reports detailing the evidence collected and providing policy recommendations aimed at improving law enforcement practices. SIPU has repeatedly recommended the expansion of body-worn camera programs.

As one SIPU report noted, “Indisputably, videotaped evidence would have greatly facilitated the investigation of this case.” The CAMS program builds on body-worn camera recommendations made in SIPU reports by providing local law enforcement agencies throughout New York State with the opportunity to obtain funding to create or expand a body-worn camera program.

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