Easton police officers will soon be wearing body cameras, a new tool law enforcement officers say will benefit the public and police.
“I’m in favor of the (body) cameras and I was in favor of the dashboard cameras,” said Police Chief Richard Doyle. “It improves accountability, documents evidence, and it can also protect the officer against false complaints and maybe even improve their behavior.”
Connecticut is among six states to mandate that law enforcement agencies outfit their officers with body cameras, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In 2020, state lawmakers passed the Police Accountability Act, which mandates the use of dashboard and body cameras for all state law enforcement agencies. The law went into effect on July 1.
Doyle said the department has been using dashboard cameras for some time, but needed to purchase the body cameras. It paid $60,000 for the cameras. Money was saved because the cameras will operate on the same infrastructure as the dashboard cameras.
The department held a training session at the police station last week with a representative from MalTech to review how the cameras work and how data is recorded and stored.
Police officers will wear a body camera throughout their patrol shift. Officers have to manually turn them on, Doyle said.
Data from the cameras will be stored in a server that was recently installed at police headquarters. There is a receiver on the outside of the building, so when an officer pulls up to the building or is in the building it reads the data from the cameras and automatically transfers it to the server, Doyle explained.
“If there is an incident the officer is required to report it,” Doyle said. “The data will be saved for 30 days on the server or until a case is adjudicated and we get a court order that we can destroy the evidence.”
Police Captain Jonathan Arnold said the department has additional protocols in place for the cameras’ use.
“We don’t record juveniles. We don’t record medical calls for HIPPA reasons. Everything else is pretty much fair game. It just keeps everybody safe,“ Arnold said.
Officers all agree that the cameras can benefit both the public and police. Camera footage can protect officers against potential false claims of misconduct. “We can go back and look at the camera,” Arnold said.
The cameras are also an excellent training tool if officers are seen doing something incorrectly. “We might not catch it if it wasn’t recorded,” Arnold said.
Sergeant Will Spenser is excited to have his officers outfitted with the cameras. “It’s going to help our officers with investigations that may arise good or bad,” he said.
Sergeant Thomas Ceccarelli feels the same way. “It’s a good idea,” he said. “It will be an asset to us and for the town for liability purposes.”
Dillon M. Kneucker contributed to this story. Photographs by Rick Falco