It might turn out to be two years later than intended, but if all state troopers can be outfitted with body cameras in the next few months it will still be a case of better late than never.
The new commander of the Connecticut State Police, Col. George Battle, recently listed body cameras among his top priorities. A state police veteran of 30 years, Battle recently offered comments about body cameras that those who back the public’s right to know would find encouraging:
“That’s certainly a big change that we’re looking forward to,” he told the Associated Press. “It offers a lot of transparency into what our folks are doing every day.”
Transparency, of course, is the motivating reason body cameras were approved in the first place. The state is spending $2 million on the equipment. A state law requiring troopers to begin using cameras, approved in 2015, was to go into effect by July 1, 2016 if the equipment were available.
Shopping decisions appear to have been the source of the delay. Field trials with different camera models have taken a long time, and there’s dealing with the issue of storing video from nearly a thousand troopers.
Battle says the shopping is near an end, with officials now ready to decide on a camera model. Once a contract is signed with the camera maker, body cameras for troopers should begin being phased in over six to eight months.
Cameras are useful tools in helping make sure police treatment is fair and impartial, which the 50-year-old Battle, who grew up in Cheshire, has acknowledged.
Body cameras for police in general has been an issue for which implementation has been slow. The AP reported earlier this year that a state task force on police body cameras created in July had yet to meet because lawmakers had appointed just five of the 26 members.
Patience is a virtue, but in this case delay can lead to serious issues of trust. Accountability in law enforcement is a primary concern, and body cameras for all police is a significant feature technology now enables. From that perspective, state police outfitted with body cameras is an encouraging first step.