Hartford City Council looks into requiring police officers to wear body cameras

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HARTFORD -- The Hartford City Council is weighing a proposal to require city police officers to wear body mounted cameras.

If passed, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Hartford Police Chief James Rovella will have to create a plan to implement the cameras.

Local activists handed out t-shirts saying “Don't Shoot” to city council members prior to a meeting Tuesday night in which the resolution was formally introduced.

The activists point to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City as examples of why they want Hartford police officers to wear the cameras. Those in favor of the uniform-mounted cameras argue that they can provide objective evidence when details of a situation are unclear.

"Equipping our police officers with cameras is one step towards protecting everybody. It protects the public, it protects the officers as well," said Lindsay Farrell of the Connecticut Working Families Party.

Others who are against the cameras argue that the money would be better spent on neighborhood groups that could help prevent crimes from happening.

Some Connecticut police departments, including those in Branford and Hamden, already use body-mounted cameras. In all, approximately 20 percent of Connecticut's police departments are using the new technology.

The Hartford Police Department has considered the idea in the past, going as far as to purchase 43 of the cameras. They have, however, gone unused because of concerns over privacy and funding.

The proposal wasn't voted on during the Tuesday night meeting, but was sent to the city's public safety committee for further review.

"This is not an action to put something negative on our police department," said Hartford City Councilman Joel Cruz, Jr. "This is a moment for all of us, citizens and police officers to come together and solve problems that we've been having for a very long time in our country."

Related stories:

All Hartford Police Officers May Begin Wearing Cameras: Proposal

Hamden Police Department to begin using body cams

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