This case study describes the policies and practices of the Wichita Police Department (Kansas) in implementing a grant for body-worn cameras (BWCs) for its Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team.
The Wichita Police Department (WPD) was an early adapter and innovator of police BWCs. It first deployed a pilot BWC program with 20 cameras in February 2011, and it was among the inaugural grantees in the first year (2015) of the Bureu of Justice Assistance (BJA) BWC Policy and Implementation Program (PIP). The PIP grant enabled the WPD to issue cameras to all 429 patrol officers. In 2018, the WPD received additional BJA BWCPIP funding to outfit the patrol supervisors with BWCs. In 2020, the WPD decided to issue cameras to SWAT officers. In this decision, the WPD sought to accomplish three goals: 1) Building transparency and trust within the community that the police are not concealing any of their actions from public examination; 2) Protection for all officers who may need documentation to refute false claims of corruption or abusive behavior; and 3) Provision of evidence if criminal behavior is involved. Some challenges discussed in having BWGs for SWAT members are related to SWAT-use-only BWGs, activation and de-activation, BWC mounting and equipment options, concerns about revealing SWAT tactics, and uSploading footage from a SWAT call-out. Some lessons learned are discussed.