A recent incident involving Bridgeport police has pushed up the urgency to install police dashboard cameras.
A video that surfaced showing a police officer striking a teenager repeatedly in the face while other officers held him down has put dashcams on the priority list.
Currently the department does not have body or dashboard cameras. However there is legislation in place that allows cities and towns to tap into state funds for this type of equipment.
Bridgeport Representative Steve Stafstrom, a strong proponent of cameras, said the delay stems partly from the cash-strapped city’s lack of funding.
"It’s no secret that Bridgeport struggles from a lack of resources often times, and there’s a struggle to prioritize resources," Stafstrom said. "Here I think the city went too long without prioritizing the need to purchase -- especially dashboard cameras -- and body cameras as well.”
Stafstrom feels cameras are important for transparency and officer safety. But, he notes, there is a justifiable sensitivity when it comes to police brutality and mistrust.
"With the advent of cellphone cameras and other recording devices, these incidents come to the forefront of the public’s mind and rightfully so," Stafstrom said. "The public needs to be assured that our police department is out there serving and protecting.”
Stafstrom doesn’t think cameras alone are the solution. He said more community policing and training are also part of the equation.
The Bridgeport police department is now reportedly in the process of acquiring dash cams.
Out of 92 municipal police departments, 56 had body cameras as of 2015, according to the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. Specific numbers for dashcams weren’t available.