Pilot Program for Police Body Cameras Clears Committee

State legislators have approved a proposal that would give state money to three Connecticut municipalities to purchase body cameras for their police departments.

If the measure becomes law, three communities – one large, one mid-sized, and one small – would be selected to participate in a pilot program that would provide data to the state.

There wasn’t much opposition to the program itself when the General Assembly's Public Safety Committee met Thursday. The main concerns had to do with what gets done with the data and video from cameras.

"I guess my thought is providing some sort of an exemption for images that might constitute an invasion of personal privacy," said State Sen. Eric Coleman, a Democrat representing Bloomfield.

Republicans agreed. State Rep. Lezlye Zupkus represents Prospect, one of eight communities in Connecticut that already utilizes body cameras. Officers can turn them off under certain circumstances.

"I actually had one of my friends have a baby in the driveway and I know if that was me I would want the camera off," said Zupkus. "So I think we need to talk about when the camera is on and off."

It's not yet clear what taxpayers may pay for the program. A spokesman for State Sen. Martin Looney, the bill's sponsor and top member of the Connecticut Senate, said the cost of the cameras could depend on which towns or cities are selected.

One member of the committee said he thinks that after the pilot program is in place and data on best practices makes its way to lawmakers, the day won’t be far off when all police departments will have to follow suit.

"I would think the next step would be to require all departments to wear body cameras," said Rep. Charles Ferraro, a Republican Orange. "Isn’t that probably a natural progression of this?"

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