State Owes Police Departments Body Cam Reimbursements

Connecticut police departments invested in body cameras and equipment with an understanding they'd be reimbursed by the state.

So where's the money?

"We want to be transparent, but we need help sometimes, with the funding-- in which the state promised and did not deliver," Wolcott Police Chief Edward Stephens said. "The state entices you to make these purchases which we want to purchase, but need the money then after you spend your town or city money, we're not getting reimbursement back."

It's a hold up of $1.7 million owed to local police departments in Connecticut. 

The Wolcott Police Department was one of the first in the state to start using body cameras in 2012.

"I wanted to buy them because I knew transparency is the best thing in the police world," Stephens said. "Another reason for these upgraded cameras is officer safety."

The Wolcott police chief got the green light from town officials to upgrade and ordered 14 more cameras late last year because the state started a grant program that would reimburse towns 100 percent of the costs for upgrades and new cameras.

Stephens' grant application was all in by early February and weren't the only police station.

This is the list of all towns currently waiting for a lot of money:

"I'm afraid what's going to happen is they're out of money and the Town of Wolcott is out $32,000 that we thought we were going to get," Stephens said. 

The program notes it could take six months to receive the money. The Office of Policy and Management (OPM) told police that reimbursements were submitted to the bond commission in May but that meeting was canceled.

"If I didn't have this opportunity, if they did not say we'd get 100 percent reimbursement, we'd still have the old cameras we were using because I couldn't afford it. Things were cut in my budget by the town council," Stephens said. 

OPM's Chris McClure told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters they are committed to this program in the following statement:

"The state’s commitment to the body camera reimbursement program is steadfast. At this time, 11 applicants have been reimbursed, and the approved applicants and pending applicants who have not yet been reimbursed will continue to be considered, especially once the state budget impasse is resolved, thereby allowing the state to hold bond commission meetings again- the funding mechanism by which the applicants are reimbursed for their body cameras. Unfortunately, at this time, without a state budget, we cannot authorize new state bonds, therefore we cannot reimburse these applicants."

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