Government Police/Fire

West Hartford Police Department Begins Testing of Body Cams

Officer Chris Lyth of the West Hartford Police Department Traffic Division wearing the Axon body camera just below his sternum. Courtesy of West Hartford Police Department

The West Hartford Police Department is testing three different body cameras over the next few months before choosing a model that will be purchased for officers.

By Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Police Department has started the process of testing and evaluating three different body cameras in preparation for compliance with a condition of the police accountability bill passed by the state legislature in special session last summer and signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont in July.

Provisions of “An Act Concerning Police Accountability,” CT House Bill 6004, take effect at different times, with the requirement that “police officers in all state, municipal, and tribal law enforcement units” utilize body cameras as well as dashboard cameras becoming a mandate as of July 1, 2022.

The West Hartford Police Department has had dashboard cameras in vehicles since 2013.

According to Capt. Michael Perruccio, a cross section of five officers/supervisors, who work on different shifts, are involved in the testing of three different models of body cameras – from Axon, Motorola Solutions, and Panasonic – and will be evaluating them over the course of the next three months.

“We have an evaluation form that each officer will have available,” Perruccio said, and officers will input information into a spreadsheet that will be reviewed to determine which model will ultimately be purchased. The cameras will be evaluated based on clarity of the images, ease of use, and durability. Data storage capacity will also be considered. The town’s IT Department and the police department’s fleet management will also be involved in the review.

Perruccio said the department contacted multiple vendors of body cameras, and for the evaluation process narrowed the selection down to three that appeared to meet the department’s necessary criteria.

Perruccio said the plan is to complete the evaluation of the body cameras by June 2021, and then choose a vendor to outfit all officers with their own body-worn cameras. In-car systems will be updated as well.

While the requirement is for officers to have body cameras by July 1, 2022, “We’re going to try to get way ahead of that,” Perruccio said Friday.

Other provisions of the law require police to display their names and badge numbers on the outside of their clothes, allows cities and towns to create civilian review boards that have subpoena power, and creates a new independent office of inspector general to investigate deadly use-of-force incidents.

The West Hartford Town Council will hold a public hearing on Feb. 9, beginning at 7 p.m., to consider an ordinance establishing a civilian police review board.

More information about the body cameras that West Hartford Police Department is considering can be found on the following sites:

Click here to read “An Act Concerning Police Accountability.

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