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Troy Police To Begin Testing Body Cameras

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Troy will soon join Albany and Schenectady by deploying a body-worn camera program for the entire police department.

The Troy Police Department is set to begin testing body-worn cameras next month.

Troy will soon join Albany and Schenectady by deploying a body-worn camera program for the entire police department.

During a 60-day pilot program, a small number of officers will wear the cameras to help determine next steps.

Mayor Patrick Madden the program is part of the police department’s ongoing modernization. The Democrat says the decision to begin implementing the devices came after department leaders, working with some rank and file members, developed a test strategy.    "We looked at a lot of other cities that have policies and chose what we felt would work for us and tinkered with it, so, they did a great job putting together a policy, it's a draft at this point in time. They also looked at a couple of different manufacturers when it comes to body cams, each one is a little bit different, so they picked the two that felt they were most likely to be what we needed and wanted, and they're going to pilot those two manufacturers’ products and services for a period of some time, up to 60 days, and then they'll make a determination. Which camera is best and did the policy work, do they need to tweak or change the policy in any fashion, so it's a trial run."

Mentioning Chief Brian Owens, Deputy Chief Dan DeWolf describes developing a pilot policy as "a work in progress."    "We've worked with members of the PBA as well as command staff and myself and Chief Owens, and we've come to a good agreement on what we think would be a good policy and we've found a couple of good vendors, Axon and Panasonic."

The Albany Police Department has used the Axon Body Camera System since 2017; Schenectady police recently began wearing a Panasonic model.  

Troy City Councilor David Bissember, a Democrat, chairs the Public Safety Committee. He says body cams will enhance police accountability and transparency.    "We need to take a deeper look into the questions about storage and access. This is something that was recommended by the Attorney General's office, and I look forward to seeing what's gonna work with the pilot program, what the tweaks are..."

Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello is pleased the program is moving forward.    "I proposed about three years ago, when I had first won the council presidency, to begin trying to seek grant money et cetera for body cams for our police officers. I believe it's a real win-win, not just for our police officers, but our community as a whole."

DeWolf says the department was awarded funding through the New York State Office of the Attorney General’s CAMS program in 2018 to purchase body-worn cameras.   "Originally these are gonna be on uniformed officers, and then there may also be a time when we have them on our detective unit, or if there's an application for our SWAT team as well that would be more like a helmet-mounted camera rather than a chest mounted camera. We're just really in the infancy stages of taking a look at how it's going to work here."

In April, an Albany Police officer was arrested and two others were suspended following the release of body cam video of a March encounter with First Street residents that turned violent.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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