Police seek $12K grant for body cameras


The Wilton Police Department is one step closer to getting body cameras for its officers, after the Board of Finance approved a $12,000 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) during its April 21 meeting.
Lt. Robert Kluk said most of the money from the Justice Department’s federal grant would be used to purchase the cameras, as well as the “back-end system” and software for storage.
“We’re still looking into different types of cameras. In the last couple of months, there’s been a lot more camera systems coming out on the market,” said Kluk.
“Before, there were only a couple when we started looking into them, so we’re still investigating which system would work best for us.”
Kluk said the department has been looking into brands including Panasonic and Taser.
Panasonic — the brand Wilton police currently have for their in-car cameras — is coming out with a body camera in about three to four months, Kluk told the board.
“That will integrate the personal body cameras into the system. That’s something we’re leaning toward, since we already have that system here [in the cars],” he said.
“Since we could connect the cameras to that system, it would make it a lot easier to get more cameras, so we’re just waiting for that system to come out.”
Kluk said the department has been using in-car cameras for “a while.”
“Once you leave the car, all the video stays in the car. If you go outside of that viewing area, there’s no more video,” he said. “The personal body cameras would be on the officers when they leave the car, so there would be video of anything that goes on outside.”

Body camera use


While the department has not yet written up a policy on when the body cameras would be activated or used, Kluk said, “most times, these cameras will not be activated all the time.”
“If we’re going to check on someone’s house or their lawns, the cameras most likely will not be on,” he said.
“These cameras are mostly for traffic stops or incidents where there would be an arrest made or [if] an officer responds to an alarm and something happens and it starts to escalate.”
Kluk said if needed, officers would be able to quickly activate their body cameras themselves.

Cost


Kluk said the department does not yet know exactly what the body cameras would cost, but he said a single camera could range “anywhere from $800 to $1,000.”
“There are a lot more expenses than just the camera itself,” he said, “because you need places to store it and upload it and download it and be able to view it — the software, the cost of the back-end system, the server, and stuff like that.”
Kluk said the $12,000 grant comes with “no strings attached.”
“We don’t have to pay anything back, we don’t have to subsidize anything, there’s no ‘we’ll give you $12,000 and you give us 12% on it,’ he said.
“We do have to account for it — it has to go to certain items, and one of those items on the list is for the body cameras.”
The JAG was already approved by the Board of Selectmen and signed by First Selectman Bill Brennan.
Earlier this year, the Wilton Police Department received a $5,000 donation from the Realty Seven Charitable Fund for the purchase of body cameras.
Click here  to learn more about the JAG.