Bethlehem Police Deploy Body Cameras

Now on Camera – Bethlehem Police Deploy Body Cameras, Car Units Coming Soon

Field personnel will don new body cameras and begin documenting police activity on Monday, June 19. According to town officials, this has been in the works for years.

“We are ready to go Monday,” Gina Cocchiara, chief of police in Bethlehem, said. “It will increase transparency, cultivate community trust, and strengthen ties between the public and the police.”

The Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, a group of town stakeholders tasked with examining relationships between the police and community, made the recommendation for the camera discussion, which became increasingly heated during the unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

“[The cameras] support our goal of transparency and accountability of our officers and the public,” said David Vanluven, the town supervisor. “We will also have the chance to observe some of the difficulties officers deal with. It’s important for our residents to see that our officers behave professionally.”

Smaller police departments are just starting to implement body cameras, despite the fact that many larger police departments in the area have done so for many years. This year, Bethlehem and Colonie are two organizations that are putting them into practice.

“The town should buy and use body cams for our police officers, according to a recommendation made two years ago by Bethlehem’s Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative. Today, we can cross that recommendation off the list,” Police-community Town Board liaison and Bethlehem Town Board member Maureen Cunningham said. “What’s more, the introduction of the body camera program was done in a highly transparent, collaborative, and community-based manner. And for that, I am proud, not only of the town and all the citizens who spoke up, but also of the forward-thinking police department leadership in Bethlehem, who are obviously paying attention.”

After years of discussion and negotiations, the Bethlehem Town Board decided to include money for body-worn cameras in the 2023 budget.

Cocciara claims that the department signed a four-year contract with Axon for body-worn cameras that will cost $51,580.10 annually and in-car cameras that will cost $34,943.98 annually.

Bethlehem received a one-time $88,000 grant from the Department of Criminal Justice Services to help defray the costs for the first year.

“This technology really brings the department into the 21st century,” Michael Whiteley, a Sgt. in Bethlehem, said.

One of the 44 sworn officers who will wear cameras is Whiteley. Five additional cameras will be available for use by the department. To keep up with evolving technology, the contract with Axon calls for the replacement of all cameras after two years.

Due to supply-chain issues, the 14 in-car cameras for marked police cars won’t be installed for a few months.

The town also needed to update other agreements and documents to clear the way for the roll out in addition to the funding.

The body cameras are permitted by the police union contracts, and they are in favor of the addition. However, Cocchiara noted that the department did need to change the agency’s general orders. In order to maintain compliance with accrediting bodies, the command staff meets frequently to update the orders.

“We have to keep up with the times,” Cocchiara said. “We have to update orders whenever there is a change, especially one this significant.”

“[Police command staff] has put a ton of work into the general orders for this equipment and have been talking to community members as well,” Vanluven said.

According to Cocchiara, body cameras have a number of important benefits, including increased police accountability and a decrease in reports of misconduct and complaints from the public. They help to improve training, shield both the police and the public from unfounded accusations, and they can generate valuable courtroom evidence.

But she added that there are some disadvantages.

“The cameras don’t alway pick up everything an officer sees,” she said. “Additionally, it detects things that they are blind to. Although it is not perfect, having it recorded is much better.”

Read More: Do Security Cameras Have Audio?

Source: spotlightnews

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x