On Monday, Congressman Matt Cartwright announced that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded a grant in the amount of $40,000 to the City of Pottsville through the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) program. The funds will be used to purchase body-worn cameras for the Pottsville Police Department.
“Through this award, the Pottsville Police Department will be able to improve community policing and make our neighborhoods safer,” said Congressman Cartwright. “Today’s announcement by the Department of Justice provides another opportunity to increase trust between the police department and the community it serves. It’s a good day when the people who help to keep our cities safe receive funding to do their jobs more effectively.”
"We are proud to have acquired $40,000 in a competitive grant process to assist in the implementation of such an important program for our officer’s and the public we serve, while diligently saving taxpayer’s money in the process. The officers of our department look forward to utilizing this new tool to continue the highest level of professional protection and service for the City of Pottsville." said Pottsville Police Chief Richard F. Wojciechowsky.
The awards are part of a nationwide program funded under the Office of Justice Programs’ BJA Fiscal Year 2016 Body-Worn Camera Policy and Implementation Program. According to the DOJ’s announcement, “The grants will help law enforcement organizations implement body-worn camera policies, practices, and evaluation methods to make a positive impact on the quality of policing in individual communities.”
Through this grant program, BJA awarded more than $16 million to state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as a $3 million supplemental award to continue support for body-worn camera training and technical assistance.
The Body Worn Camera program was launched by the DOJ last year in response to a recommendation by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing that urged law enforcement agencies to use technology to strengthen relationships with communities. Initial research has shown that law enforcement use of body-worn camera programs improve law enforcement’s interaction with the public and benefit law enforcement officers. Body-worn cameras provide a video of what the officer sees during any interaction with the public, and that video can be used to both corroborate written police reports and for other analytics. Furthermore, preliminary studies have shown that the use of body cameras leads to a reduction in both officer complaints and the use of force.