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New controversy erupts over police body cam use

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — As New Haven launches body cameras for its entire police force, a new controversy is erupting nationwide about whether officials should be able to view the footage before writing their reports. In Connecticut, it’s state law to allow prior viewing.

Yet, a new study by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights says the practice undermines transparency and accountability by allowing police officers to adapt their report to match the video.

Local civil rights lawyer William Palmieri agreed.

“We lose the officer’s own version of events,” Palmieri told News 8’s Mario Boone. Palmieri has successfully sued multiple police agencies for misconduct. He believes police should be required to write what’s called a “clean report” based on what they saw and experienced before seeing body camera video. In fact, he says this is crucial.Related Content: Police: Video shows deadly force justified in I-95 shooting

“That is how we judge what a reasonable police officer would have done,” he said.

But New Haven police spokesman David Hartman countered, “It seems silly that departments would not only allow it, but encourage it.”

Palmieri said post-video reports, “artificially bolster the credibility of that officer’s report.”Related Content: Stamford to purchase police body cameras

Opinions among citizens on the streets of New Haven were mixed.

When asked if she is okay with officers seeing body camera video first, Nicole Fields responded, “Yes, I am.”

Brianna Chance said no way. “If you watch something you’re going to be inclined to think a certain way,” she said.

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