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How Can I Find Out What City Police Dept's Use Dash Cams?
March 5, 2013 3:36 PM   Subscribe

What cities in the United States have police departments that utilize dash cams? Which don't? I thought most did and I am finding out that's not the case. Surely somebody, somewhere keeps tabs on this issue as volatile as it is.

I am Googled out. I thought this would be an easy task - but I am coming up empty.

What cities in the United States have police departments that utilize dash cams? Which don't? I thought most did and I am finding out that's not the case. Surely somebody, somewhere keeps tabs on this issue as volatile as it is.


In advance, as always, thank you!
posted by Gerard Sorme to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
A relative of mine makes equipment for police use (not specifically dash cams), and it is generally purchased and used when someone at a police department with budget available decides he wants new equipment of whatever type. I'd assume that it works the same way for dash cams, which is to say, the department has dash cams if someone high enough up to be able to write checks wanted to order some. In general, I do not believe they have any obligation to report either the purchase or the use of such equipment to any central monitoring authority.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:43 PM on March 5, 2013


It could be a complicated answer. This article sheds some light on the issue but doesn't quite answer your question. Ultimately, it sounds like it is mainly a money issue and that dash-cam units for police cars can cost as much as $10,000.

Another complicating factor is that the it seems like some departments use dash-cams in only select units, like those going after drunk drivers. So you may run into cases where a police department does technically use dash-cams, but the usage might not be universal or widespread throughout the department.
posted by Nightman at 3:52 PM on March 5, 2013


I think you'll have a tough time finding a comprehensive answer, but I'd certainly be interested if you do. In my area, certain cities have all patrol cars outfitted with dash cams (Seattle) and other municipalities don't have any. Complicating things even more are multi-city law enforcement agencies like Sheriff's Offices, or the State Patrol. In Washington, most State Patrol cars do not have dash cams, but certain task forces within the state patrol do, like the DUI enforcement team.
posted by bepe at 4:13 PM on March 5, 2013


I agree with the answers here. Police cruiser equipment is very expensive, because it takes a beating and has to be able to survive legal challenges. And police budgets are notoriously tight, even though it might not seem like it. Their purchasing is often constrained by some grant or legislative fiat. So you'll see departments with a $250,000 "Stripes" style command vehicle, decked out in LED lights and satellite dishes, and the guys running it are wearing worn uniforms and driving 10 year old Caprice Classics. Because they got a $250,000 grant to buy a command unit, and that money can't be used for anything else. Then they will get a grant to buy dash-cams, and suddenly even the drug dogs and the crowd control horses have GoPro cameras lashed to them. (And then they will have a room full of flash cards, because state law XYZ says they can't destroy the footage for X years.)

Police departments are often a little cagey about information like this too, because they believe any information about their equipment and capabilities released to the public increases the ability of "the bad guys" to subvert the law and/or make their jobs more dangerous. For smaller departments, there are definitely na'ers-do-well who would keep track of this information so they know when they can misbehave and when they can't.

So I doubt you are going to find such a resource, unless some state has mandated reporting about things like this.
posted by gjc at 2:44 AM on March 6, 2013


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