Southington police using lapel cameras

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — As the police investigation in Ferguson, Mo., is far from over, today the town announced it will raise money to buy officers cameras for their uniforms.

Here in Connecticut, a number of officers have been wearing what they call body cameras. Southington Police say it’s part of their uniform that puts them at ease on the job.

Lt. Michael Baribault says, “This takes away accusations, anything that we can disprove immediately. It also gives us a true depiction of the interaction between our citizens and our officers.” For the last two years, they’ve had these body cameras clipped to their shirts when they’re out on the streets.

When the officer moves, the video is moving, but they must remember to turn the camera on, so the interaction is recorded. When they get back to the station, they plug it in to a computer, the video downloads, and it’s stored on a server.

Baribault says, “You still have your folks that want to come forward and say they’re wronged, but what this does is give us perspective from the officer from start to end.”

People’s lives in Ferguson, Mo., have been turned upside down as this intense police investigation continues into the death of an 18-year-old shot and killed by an officer. Now, the city is considering these cameras.

Baribault says, “Of course cameras would’ve helped. But, by the same token you have to turn it on and sometimes things happen so quickly. If you’re fighting for your safety or fighting for your life, maybe you can’t turn this on because the first thing is to preserve yourself or other people.”

Baribault says since they’ve had the cameras, they really haven’t had any citizen complaints against police. He says, “Officers use it as a tool if they’ve had a DUI arrest with someone. What they can do is save a copy of that arrest and all the interactions and us it as part of the evidence.” He says they are more affordable than dashboard-mounted cameras. One of them runs about $900.

Baribault says, “The trend is here. I know I’ve had some inquiries from some other police departments looking to go to them. They’re popping up all over Connecticut.”

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