This article describes the St. Louis County Policy Department’s (SLCPD) grant-funded acquisition of body-worn cameras (BWCs), the integration of this technology into other systems, and the benefits of this implementation.
Spurred in part by a 2021 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA BWCPIP Grant # 15P BJA-21-GG-04437-BWCX), Missouri’s St. Louis County Police Department (SLCPD) expanded and refined its body-worn camera (BWC) program, acquiring an additional 100 BWCs to expand deployment to all sworn personnel. Concurrently, SLCPD developed helpful applications around their BWCs, integrating cameras from multiple sources into one readily accessible platform. Overall, the officers at SLCPD who spoke to CNA during a site visit in October 2022 feel the BWC system makes their jobs easier and increases personal safety. Department investment in the technical infrastructure as well as staff resources has allowed creative uses of the cameras and their data with practical results. Commitment and support from both the officers and the department leadership has led to a successful deployment of the camera systems. The integration of BWCs with automated license plate readers (ALPRs), Missouri Department of Transportation highway cameras, and other sources allows users to access video data from multiple sources. This integrated system, managed by the SLCPD Camera Systems Unit (CSU), turns SLCPD’s BWC system into an application that improves operations, efficiency, and officer safety. While automation helps efficiency in the field, the technology still adds labor hours and costs to handle the processing and storage of footage. According to SLCPD, the benefit of increased officer safety and the evidentiary value of BWCs are worth the operational and maintenance costs. The BWCs and their features have been used in several critical incidents to date. The footage often makes investigations more efficient because of the added digital evidence and saves time spent testifying in court. SLCPD has also used BWC footage in press releases, highlighting officers’ actions in the field.