New Canaan officers to wear body cams
Updated 6:17 pm, Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Becoming one of the first departments in Fairfield County to adopt body camera, all New Canaan patrol officer will soon be equipped to film traffic stops, arrests and other interactions officers choose.
The thumb-sized black cameras manufactured by First-Vu are worn on officers’ chests, can capture between 10 and 54 hours of footage and are intended to ensure officers carry out their duties properly and potentially improve the behavior of members of the public, New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said.
By July 1 the department should have 14 of the $600-$800 cameras to use, and is waiting for the town’s Police Commission to finalize guidelines for their use, Krolikowski said.
“I think the technology has finally gotten to where it is reliable and finally not as expensive,” Krolikowski said. “I think most of the members of the public also want it to happen so I think it is the right time for us.”
The cameras are being purchased using a combination of donations, state funds and regular budget funds, according to the chief. New Canaan is following Westport and Fairfield in the county in putting the cameras into action.
“I believe we’re an early adopter in this and everybody is trying to figure it out,” Krolikowski said.
Part of the new guidelines will attempt to establish suggested parameters for their use. For instance, standard procedure will dictate the cameras remain off during medical calls almost without exception, except when someone involved is combative.
The cameras are being implemented after a successful three-month pilot by Officer Ron Bentley, a 10-year veteran of the department, Krolikowski said.
The cameras are activated by pushing a button, and Bentley said in the course of interacting with suspects or during motor vehicle stops, the camera can help make interactions more civil.
“But there are also some people who just don’t care,” Bentley said.
In at least one instance, Bentley said the footage vindicated him when someone complained he had been aggressive and shouting.
“I think it is just a great very powerful tool,” Bentley said. “Most of the officers are pretty receptive to it and I think it is going to be good for both the public and the officers.”