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New Connecticut Law Prompts Agency to End Voluntary Use of Body-Worn Cameras

January 04, 2016  | 

New, more restrictive, costly state policy effective Friday prompted the Berlin (CT) Police Department to stop voluntary use of body cameras, worn by officers to record dealings with the public.

Berlin Police Chief Paul Fitzgerald, a retired state trooper who has led the 42-officer force since 2003, told the Hartford Courant the unfunded expense for new longer storage requirements, data retrieval and editing body camera videos prompted him to halt the use of the cameras on Friday.

The new policy, passed in early November by the state Police Officer Standards Training Council, requires departments to store body camera data for at least 90 days. Any recording considered evidence for court and other legal purposes shall be retained for a minimum of four years.

"The intent of the public act passed this year about body camera use was good but the management of the system is the problem for us," Fitzgerald said. "We don't have the equipment or manpower to store data and edit it to get requested information."

Berlin has had six body cameras for officers who chose to wear them. The program was voluntary, so not all officers used the devices. Fitzgerald told the town police commission earlier this month of his decision.

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