Hartford city taxpayers are on the hook for additional funds for the city’s police body camera program because city officials failed to submit paperwork to the state in time for full reimbursement.
NBC Connecticut Investigates confirmed the cash-strapped city missed the state’s application deadline for grant dollars just days after city officials celebrated the initial roll out of Hartford Police Department’s new body cameras program to 40 officers on Monday.
In late June, the city council authorized a $1.8 million purchase for the cameras, expecting their first year costs of more than $750,000 to be reimbursed through a state grant program.
Days later, the program’s June 30, 2018 deadline came and went, but Hartford’s paperwork was incomplete.
Mayor Luke Bronin, who is running for re-election, declined to answer questions in an interview.
His office said they were given the impression that authorizing a purchase would be enough to qualify for the program administered through the state’s Office of Policy and Management.
Application guidelines on the OPM website clearly say an actual purchase, with accompanying invoices and canceled checks, is required as part of a complete reimbursement request.
In a statement, Bronin said, “After we reached agreement with our police union, we worked hard to expedite the purchase through the RFP process and Council process, but ultimately we weren’t able to finalize the procurement by the State’s deadline for full reimbursement. The City was always expecting to pay for the majority of the five year body camera contract, and there’s no question that body cameras are worth the cost.”
Commissioner Bruce Rubenstein, who serves on Hartford’s Internal Audit Commission, said it’s a shame that money available to the city was left on the table. “I wish they would have met the deadline because we’re such a poor city, we can’t look askance at any dollar that comes our way,” Rubenstein said.
At least two dozen towns and cities have successfully applied for full reimbursement through the same program.