Police officers in the City of Harrisburg will be getting body cameras, but exactly when and at what cost remains uncertain.
“It’s a significant investment on the part of the city, but it’s worth it,” Mayor Eric Papenfuse said.
Thursday, Papenfuse discussed the request for proposals for 100 body cameras that would be worn by Harrisburg police officers. He said he hopes the cameras help to build trust.
“We’re trying to break down the barriers between the community and police because we see that as a really important aspect of a safer city,” said Papenfuse.
The RFP was published around Christmas. The city is accepting bids from vendors until February 8.
Papenfuse said the city already has enough cash on hand to cover the costs of the 100 cameras, which he estimates at “a few hundred thousand dollars.”
“We are utilizing the revenues that we have to be able to pay for this,” he said. “We can pay for it long-term, no tax increases.”
Along with the cameras, the RFP requires any potential vendor to provide adequate storage, maintenance and management of video data.
“That’s a big part because if you have to keep paying for storage, over the course of time, it can add up to a lot more than body cameras,” said Ausha Green, who serves as public safety chair on Harrisburg City Council.
“We’ve been piloting the body camera program. We’ve had officers wearing them and testing them out to see what specifications we’re really looking for,” Green said.
That pilot program began in September 2017 and went through last summer. Green said that test period — with officers using a variety of cameras in real-life situations — helped council and the police department to better formulate their request.
“The worst thing you want to do is rush into something that’s this expensive and not take your time and do the research beforehand,” said Green.
While hundreds of thousands of dollars is a lot, Papenfuse said there is no price tag on public safety.
“We’re making sure that we’re not borrowing money or spending excessively, but one thing that we are going to spend on and do so responsibly is public safety,” he said.
The company selected will have to agree to a three-year deal to provide service on equipment, software and hardware.
The RFP states that the city hopes to tentatively award a contract by May 10.