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Hartford Police Launch Body Camera Program

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford Police officers will now be wearing body cameras.

The Hartford Police Department on Monday launched its body camera pilot program in an effort to encourage transparency, city officials said.

“Our police department has demonstrated a strong commitment to transparency and accountability, and body worn cameras will strengthen that commitment even further,” Mayor Luke Bronin said. “Body worn cameras are beneficial for our men and women in uniform and our community as a whole, and they’re an important tool for successful community policing.”

About 40 police officers from various units will be wearing body cameras beginning Feb. 4.  The multi-phased program will have officers from the patrol, traffic and violent crimes unit, among others. The pilot will be for 30 days. Then it will enter into its evaluation phase. The goal is to have full integration by the end of the year, said Police Chief David Rosado.

“We believe strongly in establishing trust with our community through transparency, and body worn cameras will go a long way in helping with that,” Rosado said.

The roll out of the body camera comes after the Hartford City Council last June join other cities across the nation to implement body cameras following a rash of deadly shootings by police officers on unarmed victims.

The council authorized the purchase of 325 body cameras and 75 dash cameras. The estimated cost was $1.8 million.

City officials have been discussing the possibility of having police body cameras since 2015.  The delay of the launch was because of wrangling over the language of the contract between the city and the police union, said Mayor Luke Bronin. The negotiation began during former Chief James Rovella’s tenure.

The police body camera is self-operated. The audio goes on as soon as the officer presses a button on the camera. The camera also records up to sixty seconds of an activity that prompted the police stop.

There’s no penalty during the 90 day grace period if an officer fails to activate his or her camera. Rosado said the department will follow the guidelines for police cameras  established by the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council.

City officials touted the new initiative, saying it will provide accountability.

“Police body-worn cameras are increasingly being implemented across the country and can be an effective tool to increase accountability, transparency and trust,” said City Council President Glendowlyn Thames. “After many years of planning, I am proud to say that the Hartford Police Department is ready to launch the use of officer body-worn cameras that will go a long way to enhance police and community relations.”

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