Report on Keene police body cameras expected in February

  • FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2014 file photo a Los Angeles Police officer wears an on-body camera during a demonstration in Los Angeles. An agreement with Boston's largest police union to have 100 officers wear body cameras was praised as a step toward greater accountability. But with the Sept. 1, 2016, rollout date for the pilot program approaching, not a single officer had volunteered to wear one. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File) Damian Dovarganes

Keene Sentinel
Published: 1/3/2021 8:46:03 PM

The Keene Police Department has entered the evaluation phase of its trial of body cameras and in-vehicle cameras, with a final report expected by early February.

City Manager Elizabeth Dragon told the City Council on Dec. 17 that the testing phase of the trial period had been completed. After evaluating how that went, the police will provide a report to the council’s Finance, Organization and Personnel Committee, which Dragon said would likely happen at the committee’s first meeting in February.

The 30-day testing period started in mid-November and was carried out by six KPD officers who volunteered to wear the cameras, while three more cameras were set up in police cruisers. After hearing from the committee, the full council will determine whether to implement body and vehicle cameras department-wide.

Dragon estimated back in September that it would cost the city more than $380,000 over five years to permanently implement a body and vehicle camera program for all officers.

During the Dec. 17 council meeting, Dragon noted that a concern arose about broadband during the trial period. She said Police Chief Steve Russo has been looking into that.

“We have broadband, but we still have issues with stability,” Dragon said.

Dragon and Police Chief Steven Russo were not available Thursday to provide more information on the broadband issue.

Officers who participated in the trial were required to undergo training on how to operate the cameras and the laws governing their use, which the city estimated in September would amount to $4,700 in overtime costs.

The city has been weighing the issue since the summer, when the council was presented with a petition calling for the city to require that officers wear body cameras. The online version of the petition, launched in June, now has 559 signatures. A hard copy of the petition was also circulated.

The push came in the weeks after the death of George Floyd sparked international protests and a widespread demand for racial justice and police reform.

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