Arlington police soon will join other departments around the country that have deployed body cameras to record interactions with the public.
But you might not notice the devices.
The City Council on Tuesday approved a three-year, $1.47 million contract for 250 miniature cameras that will be embedded in police uniforms, revealing only a quarter-size lens opening and appearing roughly in the center of the chest.
Police officials preferred the smaller style because it would be less obtrusive and more stable.
“Cameras tend to fall off during physical confrontations,” said Will Velasco, senior purchasing agent for the city.
A $225,000 state grant is supplementing the funding for the three-year program, which includes the cameras, video-editing and other hardware, along with a data storage service, software licenses, installation and training.
Once contract negotiations are completed, the first cameras would be deployed in the fall and the rest during the first quarter of next year, said Brett Dove, research and development manager of the police department. Officers will wear 200 of the cameras; 50 will be backups.
Arlington police completed a six-month pilot study early last year in which they sampled a variety of body cams. The project followed the fatal shooting of a young, unarmed black man by a white Arlington officer during a burglary investigation at a car dealership. It was among a string of officer-involved shootings that sparked a national debate and helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement.
One way many major police departments across the country have responded is by using body cameras to document violent encounters and help improve community relations.