EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– East Haven officials are now considering having police officers wear cameras. It comes after four of their finest were charged with discrimination of Latinos.
It all started five years ago with a priest using his camera to try and catch East Haven police harassing Latino business owners. Police arrested him and took his camera. Now, East Haven police are all about to have cameras on them all the time. The body cameras strapped right to their chests.
“So people when they say they did this and that, we can see what side is right,” said Adrienne Cantafio, East Haven.
“That way there’s no confusion, no he said, she said,” said Alphonse Lieto, East Haven. “False accusations and stuff like that, yeah.”
“I think it’s all good, this way we know what the truth is,” said Jimmy Regan, East Haven.
A federal probe found accusations of racial harassment in East Haven to be true enough to reach an agreement, called a consent decree, to try to reform the department. One measure is to record any use of tasers.
“So any time an officer pulls out that taser gun, it has to be videoed. The one that comes with the taser gun, they’ve been having technical trouble with,” said Mayor Joseph Maturo, (R) East Haven.
So instead, the officers will wear a different camera.
To comply with the federal guidelines, each officer would have to turn on the camera each time he draws his taser, but the town is working on even stricter guidelines that would mean officers would use the cameras much more frequently, for their protection and the public’s.
The spokesman for the East Haven police says, “the officers welcome the body cameras. They are of the opinion that the body cameras will protect them from frivolous complaints and show that they are carrying out their duties in a professional manner.”
“Especially after what happened in East Haven, it’s very important to videotape both sides, so that when it goes to court, the video camera doesn’t lie and we can see a little more of what takes place,” said Mayor Joseph Maturo, (R) East Haven.
As for the priest who took that initial video, News 8 spoke with Father James Manship. He says he is happy to hear about the cameras, and happier still that the Department of Justice is turning East Haven into a model police department when it comes to racial sensitivity.