COST ANALYSIS OF POLICE BODY-WORN CAMERAS IN MARYLAND: A Review and Results of National Studies Applied to Maryland

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Executive Summary: The Energetics Technology Center, Inc. undertook a cost analysis of implementing police body worn camera programs in Maryland. Pursuant to Senate Bill 71, the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021, all county law enforcement agencies performing the police function, as well as the State Police, must implement body worn camera programs by 2025. Certain counties are required to comply as soon as 2023. While there are some random estimates of costs for a few departments provided in SB 71’s Fiscal and Policy Note, no statewide cost of implementation has been calculated previously to our knowledge. This study provides a range of such costs likely to be incurred in Maryland, collectively and by police component, for all mandated agencies, as well as for municipal police departments that are not yet, at least, covered under the provisions of SB 71.

While the study reviews and provides the results of several national studies conducted on the costs and benefits of body worn cameras, our analysis is limited to costs only, with no attempt to quantify real or perceived benefits. A number of jurisdictions have implemented full or partial body worn camera programs in the State, and the study makes no attempt to adjust for or discount costs downward for those jurisdictions which are already incurring expenses for their programs. The study provides ranges rather than one cost to reflect differences in body worn camera technology options that can be selected. The study also provides contract cost estimates on a per officer/camera basis, as well as an average personnel cost likely to be incurred to staff the program to derive a more accurate cost of implementation. Finally, the study’s cost estimates are derived from a combination of interviews, email responses and publicly available press releases and accounts, informed by the results of the aforementioned national studies.

The study estimates the average annual contract cost of a body worn camera program in Maryland, including support personnel costs, of $2445 per officer/camera. This results in a statewide total cost of $32,415,820, including municipalities. The lower and higher ends of the range of costs are $1791 and $3788 per officer/camera, respectively, reflective of the nature of the technology and storage options selected. Statewide, at the lower end of the range, costs are estimated at $24,176, 524, while costs at the higher technology option range, were all agencies to select that option, and could total as much as $50,016,752.

Finally, the study provides additional considerations regarding relative affordability issues, potential cost offsets, and future artificial intelligence/machine learning applications.

Download the full report here.