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Connecticut Police Department Praises New Body Cameras

The Willimantic, Conn., Police Department began using the cameras on July 1, and this week department officials told local media that "the body cameras have assisted police with several investigations in the past month."

(TNS) — The Willimantic Police Department's body cameras have assisted police with several investigations in the past month.

" The cameras have already been used to assist with investigations in which members of the public have changed their stories at a later time," Willimantic Police Lt. Charles Miller wrote in an e- mail on Monday. Police began using the body cameras on July 1.

Miller said the initial training was in April and numerous refresher training sessions were held between then and July.

" There was no time limit for the trainings, so they went as long as needed for the staff to become accustomed to their use," he wrote in an e- mail.

Per state law, all police departments in Connecticut are required to use body cameras and dashboard cameras. The mandate is included in the state House Bill 6004, ( Public Act 20- 1), which is known as the Police Accountability Act. The law was approved by the state House and Senate in July 2020.

In the past, Willimantic Police Chief Paul Hussey has estimated that it would cost $ 1.2 million for the cameras and associated expenses, including hiring an individual to process the footage.

Those expenses were to be spread out over five years.

Funding for the cameras includes $400,000 in the 2021- 2022 capital budget for the purchase of the cameras and $60,000 for administration of the cameras.

More funding will be appropriated in the future to implement the cameras.

The department purchased 49 cameras for all sworn staff, animal control officers, the parking authority, as well as a couple of spare cameras.

All staff that were issued a camera were required to undergo training, which involved educating staff about how to use the cameras.

Miller said the daily use has gone " fairly well."

" The officers are doing a great job using the cameras when required and the system appears to be working how it should be," he wrote.

However, Miller said, there have been challenges categorizing and sharing footage from the cameras.

" It is extremely IT ( information- technology) intensive and we do not have an IT staff," he said. " The system we are using is undergoing a large upgrade and Motorola is attempting to improve the workflow."

A civilian employee was hired to assist police with processing the videos and it takes him and Miller " most of our work day to deal with the videos," Miller wrote.

© 2022 The Chronicle (Willimantic, Conn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.