Waterbury police looking to add officer body cameras

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — We’re only 22 days into the new year and Connecticut has already seen three deadly officer-involved shootings.

One of them happened this week in Waterbury. That was the only incident not captured on police body camera video because the police department doesn’t have any.

Waterbury State Representative, Geraldo Reyes, is among those who thinks that needs to change.

“It protects the officer as much as it does the citizen,” he said.

Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo tells News 8 that his department has been looking into getting body cams long before this incident in his city.

“The Waterbury Police Department has been researching body cameras for about 18 months now,” Chief Spagnolo said. “We’ve had some vendors come into the building to present some programs for us.”

In fact, another one is visiting Thursday. But, representatives from several Connecticut police departments tell News 8 buying the storage equipment that comes with body cameras is expensive and can handcuff many law enforcement agencies.

For instance, Ansonia’s equipment used to store or save video from its body cameras costs about $30,000 a year.

“That includes 25 cameras and the licenses for each officer,” said Lt. Patrick Lynch.

The Waterbury PD has more officers than that during an average afternoon shift alone, so the costs would be higher for them.

Some of Ansonia’s body cam footage is currently being examined by Connecticut State Police because of the recent officer-involved shooting on Myrtle Ave, in which police say a man was charging at them with a knife.

Lt. Lynch believes because of cases like that, it is worth the investment.

“It is worth it and then some,” he said. “It gives us the ability to have an independent observation as to events.”

The state of Connecticut does have a grant program in place to assist local police departments in purchasing body cameras. It’s doled out more than $6 million since 2017. However, none of that money goes towards the storage equipment.

“Those grants are still in existence at different fundraising levels,” Chief Spagnolo said (he’s been chief for about a year). “This was something that the past administration did look into. The technology is constantly evolving. We just want to make sure that we get it right.”

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