The Day – Body cameras in limbo in Old Lyme – News from southeastern Connecticut –


Old Lyme — Police body-worn cameras could be rolled out within the next two months after sitting unused in town for more than a year.

Resident State Trooper Matt Weber said the delay involved expensive questions about how to store the footage and handle requests from the public to view it. The answers came when the Connecticut State Police agreed to take on the task through June 2023, he said.

There are 53 towns participating in the resident state trooper program, which provides a dedicated state trooper in places that don’t have an independent police department. Some of those towns, like Colchester and Montville, use their resident state trooper to oversee a force of local officers. In Old Lyme, the resident state trooper is responsible for six officers with full police powers.

Weber, who gets his paycheck from the state police, has the authority to supervise and direct local police operations, while the town is responsible for administrative functions.

While Weber and fellow members of the state police have been outfitted with body cameras for years, the clock is ticking on the deadline for a provision in the state legislature’s sweeping police accountability law requiring every police department in the state to have body and dashboard cameras by July 2022.

The legislation, meant to reform policing statewide, came in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by an officer in Minneapolis in 2020.

Officers should be wearing the body cameras within a month or two, according to the resident state trooper.

“I can’t wait until they’re up and running,” he said. “The body cameras have done nothing but great things for the state police, as far as I’m concerned.”

He said body camera footage can be used to dispel false accusations against police.

“I don’t know how we worked for so long without them,” he said.

Proponents of the police accountability bill say the cameras are also a way to monitor police conduct and hold officers accountable.

Police departments are required under the state Freedom of Information Act to release body camera footage unless it involves minors, victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, homicide, suicide or a fatal accident. There are certain permissions outlined in statute that allow for the release of video that includes minors, however.

State police have agreed to store the footage until the town’s current resident trooper contract with the state is up next summer, according to First Selectman Tim Griswold. He said the arrangement is possible because state police are already storing dashboard camera footage for the town.

Weber estimated it will cost somewhere between $50,000 and $70,000 per year for the service when the town needs to pick up the bill over a year from now.

The temporary storage arrangement comes despite the state’s adamant position that towns are on their own when it comes …….


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