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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Industry News: CBP Body Worn Camera Update

There has been little in the news about CBP's attempt to procure Body Worn Cameras (BWC) for Border Patrol Agents, Customs Officers, and Air and Marine Agents. According to documents obtained on CBP.gov and Fedbizopps.com there was a Body Worn Camera and Vehicle-Mounted Camera Industry Day held in Harpers Ferry, WV in October 2016. 

CBP Seeks Industry Input on Body Worn, Vehicle Mounted Cameras Report


There also have been several references to a limited amount of BWC purchased for selective field deployment. This would include 108 Body Worn and 12 Vehicle-Mounted Cameras.



Analysis:
With the current focus on the "Border Wall" and the possibility of hiring an additional 5,000 Border Patrol Agents (BPA) and another 10,000 ICE personnel we believe BWC's will be pushed to the back of any new and future technology procurements. Budgetary requests for the wall and additional manpower may leave out appropriate funding for additional cameras. 

The average cost for a mid-level body camera is between $800-$1000. However, not all 21,000 Border Patrol Agents are out in the field at once so CBP would only need to buy enough cameras to cover the "average" number of agents on each shift. Agents would simply turn in the camera unit at the end of their shift with spares being available for the next shift's personnel use. Even purchasing only 10,000 body camera units the price would be over $10 million dollars just for BP Agents and not including Officers at the Ports of Entry or in the air. Plus there is the additional expense of storing all the data, replacement cameras, spares, manpower hours for processing and retrieving footage etc. 

According to CBP.gov, "The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017 includes $5 million to develop operational requirements, conduct technical evaluations, procure camera technology, establish a camera system that includes body-worn cameras, and develop CBP’s camera policy." This dollar amount certainly is not enough to cover the expenses to have deployed BWC to all fielded Agents and definitely not enough for each of the 5,000 potential new hires. With no written CBP policy covering the deployment of BWC and no sign of additional funding for a large procurement for immediate field deployment we believe it will take a number of years for this additional technology to be available at a large scale for all CBP Officers and Border Patrol Agents.  

Written by Ryan Kenney, BorderSecurityBlog