Police to wear patrol body cameras

By Ed Baker, Wicked Local

WEYMOUTH — Police Chief Rick Fuller said officers would be able to protect themselves from false charges and frivolous lawsuits by wearing body-worn cameras during the years ahead.

“The most important reason we are moving ahead with our body-worn camera program is for the protection of our officers,” he said. “The recent police reform legislation and current state of affairs in law enforcement has made a difficult job even harder. As leaders, it is incredibly important to provide our officers with all the tools that are available to help them do their job and keep them safe.”

Town Council unanimously approved the police department’s budget expenditure of $773,890 to lease the cameras, patrol car video recorders, and related equipment from Georgia-based Bodyworn by Utility over five years on April 5.

“We hope to begin rolling out the program in the next couple of months,” Fuller said.

Fuller said body-worn cameras are “a win-win” for police and the public.

“They increase transparency and accountability,” he said. “They serve as a built-in impartial witness. It has been shown that body-worn cameras have an impact on the self-awareness of officers and civilians. Everyone behaves better when the camera is on, and this contributes to more positive outcomes. This will prevent situations from escalating to levels requiring the use of force and also improve interactions between officers and citizens, therefore increasing officer safety.”

Boston public news radio station WBUR 90.9 FM recently reported half of the nation’s police officers’ officers wear body cameras, but only 17 law enforcement agencies use them in Massachusetts.

News media partner  WCVB-TV reported State Police troopers assigned to Logan Airport recently began body camera use training.

Fuller said, “it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when,” police departments across Massachusetts will be using body-worn cameras.”

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‘Body-worn cameras have been deployed by police departments all around the country for several years,” he said.

Somerville police officers will soon wear body cameras under an agreement reached with city officials.

Town Council Vice-President Michael Molisse said the police department’s lease with Bodyworn By Utility would help protect officers from being falsely accused of assault and lawsuits.

“We are getting into the forefront,” he said. “We have a proactive police chief and police department, which is very good for the town of Weymouth. “

Fuller said Weymouth police are grateful to Mayor Robert Hedlund, his chief of staff Ted Langill, and the Town Council to recognize how essential body cameras are for officers and the town. 

Molisse said the police union supports the use of body cameras.

“Everybody is on board with it,” he said.