Federal grant awarded to Charleston Police Department for body cameras

The Charleston Police Department reviewed nine different body cameras earlier this year from five different manufacturers in an effort to choose the best fit for its officers. Pictured is the TASER AXON body.

The Charleston Police Department on Monday was awarded a $25,264 federal grant for body cameras.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made the announcement at the White House Champions of Change event on building bridges between youth and law enforcement.

More than $19.3 million was awarded to 73 local and tribal agencies across the country for body-worn camera programs as part of the Department of Justice’s Body-Worn Camera Pilot Partnership Program that kicked off in May.

The program was designed, Lynch said, to “assist local jurisdictions that are interested in exploring and expanding the use of body-worn cameras in order to enhance transparency, accountability and credibility.”

Body cameras have been billed as a way to shed light on police-involved incidents after the April 4 shooting death of Walter Scott in North Charleston, an episode captured on cellphone video. To proponents of the technology, the case became an example of how video can help get to the bottom of such incidents.

Numerous departments around the Lowcountry have already begun purchasing and using body cameras, including Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant.

Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis said the department currently has 140 body cameras but needs 210 more to outfit every officer.

“(The grant) will allow us to get closer to our goal ... and continue to grow the program,” he said.

Reach Melissa Boughton at (843) 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.