The Allentown Police Department was awarded a nearly $250,000 federal grant today for body-worn cameras for police officers.
The grant comes from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), part of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs. The BJA awarded 73 grants across the country totaling more than $19 million. The BJA had received 285 applications requesting more than $56 million in funding and seeking the purchase of more than 55,000 cameras.
“I am elated that the BJA has approved the city’s application,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “We have seen that the city’s street cameras have been extremely valuable in both preventing and solving crime in the city. These body cameras will be just as valuable in enhancing transparency and can be used as a new tool in the continuing education of our officers on the street.”
The grant will pay for body cameras for every member of the department. It requires a 100% match from the city. Matching funds from the city’s 2015 Capital Bond Issue and the department budget will pay for additional equipment and software.
The department has been testing various body camera models in hopes of outfitting all officers. The city may learn more about the availability of the funds soon.
“We are honored to have been selected as a recipient for body worn camera (BWC) program funding,” said Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald. “Our department worked very hard to test the viability of BWCs over the past few months, and this award enables APD to move towards our mission of enhancing procedural justice by increasing accountability and transparency. It will be very helpful to everyone involved in police / citizen encounters to capture an additional perspective.”
Allentown is one of five police departments in Pennsylvania and the only one in the Lehigh Valley to receive funding. The 73 grants range from a low of $9,500 to a high of six awards of $1 million.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recognizes body-worn cameras as a law enforcement strategy aimed at improving public safety, reducing crime and improving public trust between police and the citizens they serve.