Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday that it will cost the government $694,000 to provide the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) with 200 body-worn cameras and video storage solutions that should be worn by officers by the end of the second quarter.
“It was approved by Cabinet about two weeks ago and so we will now move towards finalizing the contract with the vendor,” Dames told reporters following the Caribbean Federation of Police Welfare Associations opening ceremony at Breezes Resort and Spa Bahamas.
Asked the name of the vendor, Dames said he could not provide it at the time, however, he added that the company is considered the leading vendor in the United States for providing body cameras.
Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson confirmed that the RBPF is actively drafting its policy regarding the use of the body cameras.
“As soon as we’re done it will be disseminated to all members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force so they would know how to use it and what all happens when you go out with [the cameras],” Ferguson said.
He added that he believes that body cameras will bring an added element of transparency to the relationship between the public and the RBPF.
“The police department has nothing to hide and a body cam will only enhance what you do,” Ferguson said.
“There’s always this issue of transparency and we welcome things like that.”
According to police, there were 11 fatal police-involved shootings in 2018.
This year, according to The Nassau Guardian’s records, there have been four police-involved shootings, killing six people.
One of the most recent police-involved shootings has stirred controversy around the country after police shot and killed three men in a home off Eastern Road on the morning of May 19, after the men opened fire at officers who had attempted to execute a search warrant.
Police said the incident happened around 2:30 a.m. in a pink and white building on Newgate Road in the Blair Estates community.
Ferguson added that technology is vital to the improvement of the force.
“Technology is very important,” he said.
“You cannot be living in the 21st century and still relying on things that were in the 18th century.
“This police force is progressive.
“…The government has signed a number of initiatives.
“We have had a number of [technologies] at the forefront that we are relying on…”
As far as making body camera footage public, Ferguson said he didn’t want to speak out of turn as the policy has yet to be finalized.