One of the latest trends in public safety and police technology is wearable or on-body video cameras for patrol officers, which can be lapel-mounted or eye-level, attached to sunglasses. According to Scott Greenwood, General Counsel of the ACLU, around one out of every six police departments nationally are using or conducting trials of body camera technology. As one town in Arizona mentioned in their bid language, benefits of on-body cameras include “protection from false complaints and avoid frivolous lawsuits” as well as “enhance community transparency and public trust and encourage professional behavior…” A recent Washington Post op-ed piece reported on results of a test in Rialto, California showing a dramatic reduction of 88% in citizen complaints following use of the cameras as well as reduced use of force by officers.

Los Angeles – now in a trial of the camera technology – has been testing them “with an eye toward ultimately deploying them” to their entire 9,900 officer force if all goes well (a contract potentially worth tens of millions). Seattle Police have decided to move ahead with a $150,000 pilot program for 12 months, which will record only video due to current regulations about audio taping. No more than 12 cameras are expected to be used and the pilot will be voluntary – officers will have to volunteer to participate. A recent Seattle Times article mentioned police departments that have already started their trials or begun full departmental use such as Albuquerque, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Fort Worth. These are in addition to the thousands of other towns, cities, county sheriff’s offices and state highway patrol units that have been experimenting with them.  

Law Enforcement Body Camera Contract Awards

Onvia’s project database of bids, RFPs and awards in the last few years captured body camera projects from local and state governments where the budget exceeded the minimum threshold for small purchases.  The following table gives examples of larger awarded contracts. It’s important to note that many of the contracts cover the camera product as well as video storage, support and maintenance. At this level, these are either sizable trials in medium to large cities or full implementations. Las Vegas had the largest single award at over $800,000, which included a five year service/support contract and an online cloud-based storage solution. Modesto, CA, Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport and Wichita, KS all ordered around $100,000 worth of equipment and services. Daytona Beach ordered 28 cameras with related hardware, the cloud-based hosted storage option and a 5-year support contract.

In order to gather intelligence on upcoming projects and bidding opportunities, Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center provides a comprehensive searchable database where you can pinpoint examples of body camera key words within Capital Improvement Plans (CIPs) and budget documents. The following is a brief list of some of the upcoming projects we found:    

  • The Minneapolis St. Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission is planning on awarding a $95,401 contract for 20 body cameras and replacement of their video storage system in 2014. This includes $78,501 for the camera units themselves plus $14,900 for installation and services, plus $2,000 for the new server and SQL licenses.
  • In Duluth, MN, the city is planning to spend $85,000 during 2014 for a package of body cameras for their officers.
  • New Orleans, as part of a comprehensive overhaul of their Police Department, is spending $11 million in 2014 on training and various services, including the purchase of body cameras for patrol officers.
  • Beginning in 2014, Albemarle County, VA is planning on replacing 22 CopVu body camera units over a 4 year period, and will at the same time replace 99 in-car cameras over a 5 year period. The total combined budget for this comes to $681,213.


On-body cameras is clearly a growing category in public safety procurement, particularly at the city government level. Additional clarity around rules and guidelines is expected from the U.S. Justice Department to address questions about how the solution should be implemented especially with regard to privacy.

Onvia has identified over 11,000 agencies (including states, counties and municipalities with a population of over 4,000 citizens) likely to have their own law enforcement entities.  Each of these agencies could be a candidate for body camera technology once adoption becomes more mainstream. With the large number of potential candidates for this technology and the ACLU’s estimate of 1 in 6 law enforcement agencies already pursuing this technology, Onvia estimates around 1,800 law enforcement entities are pursuing trials or currently using body camera technology today.  The remaining 9,000+ law enforcement entities could be looking to evaluate body camera technology over the coming years, not to mention additional smaller municipalities that will likely be influenced by trial results from larger entities. Considering expected growth from law enforcement entities currently in the trial stage that could transition to full deployment and those agencies who have yet to begin trials, there appears to be a very large opportunity for technology vendors in this market.  

For more on body worn cameras, Onvia has highlighted this market as a top government contracting hotspot as well as a leading example technology in the Smart Cities movement.