How to Upgrade Your Interview Room Recording Equipment

For those working in law enforcement, it’s no secret that funding for departmental tech updates can be a bit hard to come by. However, if you’re looking to upgrade your interview room recording equipment, there are a few ways you can go about sourcing the necessary funds. Below, we explore how you can get the money you need through strategic annual budget planning, grants, and forfeiture funds.


Plan Ahead through Your Annual Budget

Perhaps the most traditional way to upgrade your interview room is by planning for it in your annual budget. The International Association for Chiefs of Police (IACP) recommends that you include a recording system purchase like CaseCracker in your capital budget, as it allows your community to develop a long-term plan for this larger expense. By budgeting it through a capital improvement program, you can not only plan for the purchase of new recording equipment, but for its maintenance and future upgrades as well. 

If you need help justifying the initial upgrade/purchase, IACP offers three strategies: how it makes/saves money, why it’s more cost effective to purchase it now rather than in the future, and how it helps improve safety. Up-to-date interview room recording equipment can meet all three of these justifications, as it not only helps save money by providing audio and video of a confession, ending costly legal back-and-forth, but waiting to purchase it may mean a bigger expense as technologies change (and money for future upgrades can be included in a capital improvement program plan). Finally, it makes the community safer, as it protects both officers and civilians from improper interrogation and the risk of false confessions.

(For more help with annual budget planning, check out IACP’s free best practices guide here.)


Apply for a JAG or State-Specific Grant

Outside of an annual budget, law enforcement agencies can look to grants to fund interview room upgrades. For example, the City of Wayne Police Department in Wayne, Michigan, found support to upgrade to an interview recording system from CaseCracker through JAG’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program in 2014. This federally-funded program is authorized to spend over a billion dollars per year and allows any State Administering Agency (SAA) to guide use of grant funds and pass them through to local government law enforcement agencies. 

Wayne PD’s chief Alan Maciag explains that the City of Wayne got their grant for CaseCracker because the system was cost-effective, easy to use, and met both the grant and the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards’ requirements. He feels confident he made the right choice by choosing CaseCracker, as his detectives “are extremely pleased with the system and have commented on its quality and ease of use.”

(Interested in following in the Wayne PD’s footsteps? Check out the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program page for the application process, as well as the National Criminal Justice Association for an overview of JAG. Also, look for other grant opportunities specific to your state.)

Make Use of Asset Forfeiture

Finally, you can upgrade your interview room through an asset forfeiture fund. Though laws on the use of these funds vary by state, you may be able to make use of seized assets on both local and federal levels depending on where you are located. If the law allows and your department has assisted with a federal investigation that resulted in seized funds or property, you may apply for a portion of that money through the Equitable Sharing Program. 

In order to participate in this program, your agency must first submit an ESAC form and affidavit to the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS). After the form is accepted, the applying agency is placed into compliance. Yearly filing of the ESAC is required to remain a participant in the program, and most traditional law enforcement agencies, including city, district, local, county, state, or tribal police, sheriff or highway patrol departments, and state or local prosecutors’ offices are welcome to apply.  

For Department of Justice-led investigations, an agency may apply for a portion of seized assets by submitting a DAG-71 to the federal seizing agency through the Department of Justice’s eShare Portal. A separate DAG-71 must be completed by the requesting agency for each asset to be shared, and be submitted no later than 45 days following a forfeiture. Later requests must include a waiver request along with the sharing request in order to be considered for a waiver. The same process is followed for Treasury Department-led investigations, but a TD F form must be submitted to the appropriate federal agency. Both forms must include an accounting of hours worked and a description of said work that contributed to the federal seizure in order to be considered. 

If an equitable share is granted, permissible uses of the fund include the purchase of interview room recording equipment, as well as training. You can also use the money to hire a grant writer to help you source additional funding for future upgrades and training outside of your annual budget. 

(For more information on Equitable Sharing, you can find the DOJ’s 2018 guide here.)

Law enforcement agencies use many different methods to procure new interview recording equipment, we recommend doing what works best for your agency. CaseCracker meets the needs of agencies big or small — check out the newest IP-based solution, CaseCracker Onyx.