Hartford City Council approves measure to purchase police body cameras

HARTFORD --  Hartford City Council approves measure to purchase police body cameras, two days before state deadline to be reimbursed for the $750,000 purchase.

The topic of body cameras has been in the works since 2012.

It was then when the police department purchased 40 cameras, but it never happened because of fiscal constraints and union pushback.

At Thursday's special council meeting, Councilman Larry Deutsch said the body cameras were the priority and there needs to be more study around the tasers.

“They have been fatal to some people, they have been mistaken for a gun,” said Deutsch.

The body cameras the department is purchasing are state of the art. If an officer were to take out his or her taser, the camera would automatically turn on and include the previous 30 seconds of video.

If another officer is within a 30-foot radius, their camera would turn on as well as their police dash cruiser cams.

There was concern the vote would not happen in time. Councilman TJ Clarke II postponed the vote on Monday and he said it was because there needed to be a better understanding of how these cameras would work and the extension of the grant.

“It’s more police accountability, the community can have a sense of safety. We have seen all that’s going on nationally regarding improper use of weapons and force,” said Clarke II.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin released the following statement:

"We’re fortunate to have a Police Department that is deeply committed to transparency and accountability, and body cameras are an important tool for effective community policing today.  Around the country, we’ve seen body cameras increase trust between officers and the community, protecting officers and citizens alike.  I’m grateful to the Hartford Police Union, and to the Council for their timely action, which will allow us to get reimbursed for $750,000 by the State.  I’m pleased that Hartford will soon be in a position to begin deploying body cameras this year.”

The approval comes a day after a string of shootings in the city as of late. Most recently, a drive-by shooting left four people injured, one critically Wednesday night.