Funding for more Nevada police body cams dominates committee hearing

Funding issues took center stage during a hearing on a bill that would require police throughout Nevada to use body-worn camera systems.

Senate Bill 176 would require all peace officers who regularly interact with the public to be outfitted with bodycams by July 1, 2018. The requirement comes with some hefty price tags, according to fiscal impact statements submitted by several jurisdictions to the Senate Government Affairs committee.

The City of Las Vegas reported it would cost about $100,000 to purchase equipment and $70,000 per year to fully equip about 70 city marshals. Clark County reported it would cost about $151,000 to issue bodycams.

Most jurisdictions said fiscal impacts from the bodycam bill would largely be covered under a funding mechanism that would allow each county to raise its 911 surcharge.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, testified that he worked with stakeholders to identify a funding source and bring the bill back this session. High costs stymied a similar effort in 2015.

“It’s time to expand this important tool throughout our state,” he said.

A 911 surcharge designed to fund upgrades to emergency dispatch systems could be increased from $0.25 to $1 per month for each phone line and cellphone number. Currently every county except Clark is authorized to use a 911 surcharge.

Some on the committee worried that the surcharge would not be enough to fund bodycam programs in rural counties. The Nevada Telecommunications Association and T-Mobile opposed the use of the surcharge.

Southern Nevada public safety leaders lined up to express their support of the 911 surcharge. Fire departments from Clark County, Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas testified in support, citing the opportunity to upgrade the valley’s emergency dispatch systems.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

Contact Wesley Juhl at and 702-383-0391. Follow @WesJuhl on Twitter.