Minority Lawmakers Call for Body Cameras for All Police [NBC]

May 22, 2015


Members of the General Assembly’s Black and Legislative Caucus called on the legislature to approve an amendment that would allocate $15 million in bonds to police body cameras.

The cameras would be distributed to large and small police departments across Connecticut, including state police.

“Our view is that body cameras serve a mutual benefit,” said Rep. Bruce Morris, a Democrat from Norwalk. “It protects police officers. It protects them from being in those opportunities when someone is falsely accusing them and it also protects victims because now we can actually get to see the story and get it correct.”

Supporters say the cameras would cut down on unnecessary use of force and improve relations between police and minorities in the state.

The amendment, which has not yet been written or submitted, would be added to an existing Senate bill that addresses the use of excessive force by police and would require investigation in the event that a officer had to act.

Opposition to the proposal comes from the Connecticut State Police Union. Union President Andy Matthews argues that the legislature shouldn’t make a decision on the cameras without consulting the union first.

“We’ve said this publicly. We’re willing to work with the legislature to address their concerns but it’s a working condition issue. It’s a collective bargaining issue,” said Matthews.

He said his organization would be open to discussing the issue with lawmakers, the Connecticut State Police and community organizations with concerns over policing.

He argues that troopers have been proactive in their modern policing efforts and that body cameras aren’t a perfect solution, especially when it comes to meeting with informants.

“We got out in front of this in 2001,” Matthews said. “Every cruiser in the state of Connecticut on patrol has a vehicle recorder on it with audio.”

Supporters, including Winfield, said police will be able to turn the cameras on and off and said there would be language in the amendment to address how the data from the cameras would be stored.

Top Republican Sen. Len Fasano, of North Haven, voiced his support for the $15 million bond package Thursday.

“Many times we get accused of being reactive in this building, but today this is very much proactive,” Fasano said.