In early 2018, HB 1730 will be introduced in the House. This bill:
- establishes a grant program for police departments to pay for body cameras
- creates a $40 fee for vanity license plates with 4 digits or less to provide revenue for the grants
A new fund for public safety
HB 1730 creates a new “public safety enhancement” fund to pay for police body cameras for local, county and state police. The fund would include money from federal grants and private donations, as well as proceeds from “prestige number” vanity license plates. Law enforcement agencies would be able to apply to the state department of justice for grants from the fund to pay for police body cameras.
The bill doesn’t require law enforcement agencies to equip officers with body cameras—it only creates a funding source for departments that opt to do so.
HB 1730 would make any license plate with 4 digits or less issued by the state of New Hampshire a “prestige plate.” Those who choose to have prestige vanity plates on their vehicle would pay an extra $40 fee in addition to normal registration. This would be a recurring, annual fee. The money collected from prestige vanity plates would be deposited in the new public safety enhancement fund.
If passed, this law would go into effect at the start of 2019.
Pros and cons
Supporters of HB 1730 say it provides funding for important police tools without raising taxes. Body cameras are seen by some as a way to increase police accountability by maintaining a video record of all officer interactions with the public. These devices can provide insight into officer involved shootings, which are often subject to conflicting witness testimony.
Opponents think police body cameras unnecessarily infringe upon the privacy of those being videotaped. Other opponents note that before subtracting administration costs, the prestige license plate fee probably won’t raise more than $400,000 – but buying body cameras and storing footage can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single police department.
Do you support funding body cameras for police with a $40 fee for “prestige” vanity license plates? Let us know in the comments below.