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Largest Virginia County Moving Forward with Police Body Cameras

Fairfax County, Virginia, plans to go forward this this week with its plan to outfit police officers with body-worn cameras.

Fairfax County is part of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and is the most populous county in the state of Virginia, with an estimated population of 1.1 million residents.  

The first phase of the three-year program will begin on 1 May, with more than 400 body cameras to be put into service, according to Fairfax Police Chief Edwin Roessler. The county’s plan calls for similar numbers of cameras to be phased in for each of the next two years, reported.

Back in 2018, some Fairfax County officers at the Reston, Mason, and Mount Vernon District stations participated in a pilot body camera program. Officers in those three districts will be among those who will start wearing cameras this week. Training on camera use is now underway.

The program is expected to create 13 new positions, including two in the IT department, three in the police department, eight in the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, reported.

Year one of the project costs about $4.3 million. Finishing the program over the next two years will require an additional $6.7 million, according to local officials, who have also warned that future funding could be delayed because of budget issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Indeed, budget challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic have hampered the body camera programs in two of Florida’s largest police departments in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Tampa police recently put on hold a purchase of more than 600 cameras that was scheduled for 2020. The delay was due to budget concerns caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The St. Petersburg Police Department decided to delay their body camera testing program and postpone moving forward on seeking funding for hundreds of cameras.

For more information on body camera programs, see the Security Management article Body Camera Complications.