Beginning July 1, 2023 law enforcement agencies across Colorado will be required to outfit their officers with body worn cameras. The camera mandate portion of Colorado’s historic policing legislation SB20-2017 requires prompt release of video footage and lengthy video storage. In a special series, investigative reporter Rob Low and producer Carisa Scott look in depth at how the law is affecting the state’s law enforcement agencies.
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (KDVR) — The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office will spend $2.5 million to comply with Colorado’s body cam mandate when the law goes into effect in July of 2023.
“I agree with body worn cameras whole-heartedly and I think everybody at our agency does as well,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown, who said the only controversy for him is the cost.
Currently 176 Arapahoe County patrol deputies are outfitted with body worn cameras. But by July of 2023, all department investigators and detention officers in the jail will wear body cameras bringing the total number of bodycams to 786.
A spokeswoman for the department told the Problem Solvers Body each camera will cost about $1,000, but that’s not even the expensive part.
“Data storage is going to be the largest cost,” said Brown. “We’re looking at hundreds of thousands of interactions that we have that we’re going to have to store somewhere.”
The department previously to manage all of the video storage in-house, but it is now moving to a cloud-based storage system to handle countless hours of video clips.
Perhaps, most significantly the department is adding 17 new positions to help manage an ever-growing video library of body cam clips.
“I think it’s going to be a little more than $1 million (in staff salaries), but yeah 17 new employees is going to be a huge increase,” said Brown.
The department is hiring a new deputy inspector for internal affairs and two logistics coordinators to oversee 14 full-time digital evidence technicians.
“We are privy to health information and identifying information for juveniles an so we need those individuals who look at the video and are able to blur certain things out,” said Brown.
The sheriff’s department spent $750,000 to reconfigure building space and equip a team with the technology to alter or blur video. According to the mandate, law enforcement has 21 days to provide body cam video if an officer or deputy is suspected of misconduct, but if there’s a pending criminal matter than law enforcement has 45 days to release the video.
“I think body cameras are an opportunity for us to show how we do our business and how professional we are,” said Brown.
While Brown said he felt body cams are worth the cost because of the trust and transparency they provide the public, he cautions they come with a steep cost that may limit the number of new deputies on patrol.
“Ultimately that means certain resources might not be deployed to the street and they’re kept here in house,” he said.