Did you know that funding for body-worn cameras programs (BWC) for state and local law enforcement agencies is set for rapid growth towards the latter part of 2016 and into 2017?

This is the good news that we learned when we sat down with Michael Paddock, CEO of the Grants Office, to talk about funding trends for state and local government agencies. As he described it, there will be a “flood of funding” for BWC programs starting Q4 2016 and continuing well in to 2017 with the aim of ensuring that law enforcement agencies across the country are able to purchase not only the actual cameras but also invest in the IT infrastructure that’s required to successfully execute a body-worn camera program.  These upcoming grants include the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG), as well as more from the Department of Justice and other applicable agencies.

Paddock emphasized during our conversation that law enforcement agencies should use the dog days of summer to prepare for their grant applications so that they are competitive, meaningful, and most of all, successful.  As is most often the case when talking about grant funding, there are grants that address most aspects of a body-worn camera program – including policy development, infrastructure expansion, and of course camera purchases – and that careful attention should be paid to aligning the chosen grant with community need.  And, as is often the case when it comes to successful grant applications, Paddock was quick to point out that collaboration – between agencies, localities, or functional units – such as gang violence taskforces – is one of the best ways to develop a winning application.  Partnerships enable greater economies of scale and more viable measures of program impact and success.

While there’s plenty of discussion around the need for policy and governance around how body-worn cameras are used, there’s less information around how to maximize awards for the more complex and costly elements, that is for the data management and retention infrastructure that supports a successful body-worn camera program.

One of the biggest risks in executing on a BWC program is that storage infrastructure and supporting policies for data retention, chain of custody, and data security, are not part of the initial planning and discussion phases.  In these cases what often happens is that either data from the cameras quickly exceeds storage capabilities, creating major issues for retention and data security, putting the viability of the initiative at risk.

Another issue if IT operations isn’t given a seat at the planning table a storage solution with inexpensive upfront costs is chosen, without understanding what hidden charges could be lurking in the fine print.  Paddock cited several examples of situations he’s seen grant recipients outgrow their data storage and grant funding and be required to fund additional storage out of operating budget.  He commented that “a possible solution to ensure storage is flexible and costs are controlled, with the added benefit of more robust data security and chain of custody provisions, is cloud-integrated storage.”  Cloud-integrated storage solutions combine on-premise retention with readily accessible long term storage in either private or public cloud environments. Because they enable data to be stored, accessed, and secured these critical behind the scenes components are just as important as the policies that govern usage, and the cameras themselves.

Interested in learning more about how to capitalize on grants for law enforcement technology?  You can access an on-demand webinar here.