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Senate President Pro Tempore

Martin M. Looney

Representing New Haven, Hamden & North Haven

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New Haven Legislators Announce State Bond Funding for Police Body Cameras

NEW HAVEN— Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven), Senator Gary Winfield (D-New Haven) and members of New Haven’s legislative delegation announced today the imminent approval of funding for body cameras for city police.

The State Bond Commission is expected approve $790,421 to reimburse the New Haven Police Department for the purchase of body-worn recording equipment and digital stage devices when it meets on November 29. New Haven is one of 14 municipal police departments set to receive this funding.

“In 2015, with Senate Democratic leadership, Connecticut became one of the first states in the country to establish a program to help municipalities pay for police body cameras and data storage. It’s great to see the New Haven Police Department has joined several other police departments across the state in taking advantage of this reimbursement program.” Sen. Looney said. “Community policing efforts in New Haven have increased greatly over time, and the implementation of body cameras just adds another layer of transparency and trust in the community.”

“There are many advantages to having police body cameras, but I think the most important aspect of this is the increase in transparency and accountability of police officers,” Sen. Winfield said. “As someone who has advocated for stronger police accountability laws in the state legislature, I believe this increased trust will play an important role in improving safety and the overall wellbeing of New Haven communities.”

“For years, body-worn cameras have proven to be powerful resources for police. This equipment holds both our officers and civilians to a higher standard by promoting accountability and deterring misconduct,” said State Representative Al Paolillo (D-New Haven). “By equipping our officers with body-worn cameras, not only are we restoring the public’s trust in law enforcement, but we are helping the police department build ties with our community and residents.”

“In the wake of recent high profile incidents, it is crucial that we put the necessary safeguards in place to promote police accountability and increase officer safety,” said State Representative Robyn Porter (D-New Haven). “Outfitting our men and women in blue with body-worn cameras will help deter officer and civilian misconduct, resolve complaints against police, and restore public trust in law enforcement. Securing this funding is a step toward creating a safer community for both our police officers and residents to live and work in.”

A total of $13 million was bonded for a major grant program to municipalities, beginning in last year. Moreover, starting in July 2016, all Connecticut State Troopers were required to wear body cameras while on duty and interacting with members of the public. The new law does not require any municipality to use police body cameras.

Basic guidelines for the use of cameras set forth in the bill include:

  • Cameras must be worn above the midline of torso on outer-most garment.
  • Cameras must conform to the approved minimal technical specifications.
  • No person shall edit, erase, copy, share, alter or distribute any recordings.
  • An officer may review recordings to assist with a report.
  • If an officer is giving a formal statement in a disciplinary investigation, the officer can opt to review recordings of an incident in question.
  • An officer shall not intentionally record:
    • Communications with other officers
    • Encounters with informants or undercover officers
    • While on break or engaged in personal activity
    • A person undergoing medical or psychological evaluation, procedure, or treatment
    • While in a hospital, medical facility or mental health facility unless recording a suspect to a crime
    • If these incidents are recorded, they are not subject to disclosure under FOI.
  • Recordings of domestic or sexual abuse situations and recordings of a victim of homicide, suicide or a deceased victim of an accident shall NOT be subject to disclosure under FOI to the extent that disclosure could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
  • Officers must be trained in accordance with the bill in use of cameras and data retention.
  • If an officer is aware that a camera is damaged, he or she must report it so that it is repaired or replaced.

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