New Haven Police Officers Look For Transparency Through Body Cameras

Nov 1, 2017

New Haven police officers will now be outfitted with body cameras. Police Chief Anthony Campbell said he believes the cameras will make a difference in police-community relations.

“It’s a benefit to the officer and it brings greater accountability to the department so that when an officer is accused of improper behavior, violation of our department policies, or even criminal activity, the video will determine the truth of the matter,” Campbell said.

But a recent study, conducted by Washington D.C.’s local government, and reported by NPR, showed body cameras had no significant effect when it came to citizen complaints or officers’ use of force.

Campbell said he thinks the impact largely depends on the community.

“I think that this community will be different once these body cameras have been issued,” Campbell said. “I bet you you’ll see less of an outcry from the community with regard to the potential for abuse of authority by police officers. And I believe that there will be a reduced level of fear by community members when they deal with police.”

Campbell said New Haven’s been engaged in community policing for decades, and it’s not just the police that want the cameras, he said the community’s been asking for them too.

Funding for the body cameras came through a state grant.

But beyond citizen police behavior, Campbell highlighted the recent attack in New York City underscoring the importance of body cameras as a tool for collecting audio and video evidence. He said in instances where there are attacks or high profile cases involving police officers the information can be vital to any investigation.