October 6, 2013 04:10PM
By Lauren Sievert
SOUTHINGTON — A local resident has donated more than $8,000 to the police department so that officers can be equipped with body cameras as a way to help keep officers and civilians safe.
Curtis Robinson, of Southington, said he donates to many causes and funds in town, and when the idea came up for the body cameras for the officers of the Southington Police Department, he was only too happy to be able to help.
“They do such a wonderful job keeping our families safe,” Robinson said. “It is a win-win. God has been good to me and I want to try to give back.”
Lt. Michael Baribault said the cameras, which resemble small boxes officers wear on the front of their uniforms, cost about $900 each. Robinson provided enough money to purchase nine of the cameras and the police department purchased two more, Baribault said. The cameras were issued and put into use at the end of September, Baribault said.
Robinson said he intends to buy more cameras for the police department next year, and hopes to eventually get every on-duty officer equipped with a camera. Robinson said the cameras serve the dual purpose of protecting the officers and giving supervisors a look at what the officers do.
The officers wearing the cameras are required to turn them on to record any traffic stop or domestic violence call, Baribault said. Other than those types of calls, it is up to the officer’s discretion when to turn the camera on, Baribault said. When the camera is recording, the lens is visible on the top with a green box around it.
“The camera is not constantly running,” Baribault said. “There is a lot of time in between calls where the officers are sitting in their cars. There would be a lot of steering wheel.”
Baribault said the money Robinson donated had to go through the Board of Finance because the check was made out to the town from a private citizen. But the money was specifically donated for the cameras, and the paperwork had to be done to appropriate it to the police department, Baribault said.
Town Manager Garry Brumback and Police Chief Jack Daly were both receptive to the program, Baribault said.
The cameras will last for years, and the video obtained will be used like any other video evidence police might collect for cases from their cruiser cameras or security cameras in stores, Baribault said.
Police in Wolcott use the same cameras and Baribault said they have been proven effective in that department for at least two years.
State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance said the cameras are technology available to police departments, much like vehicle cameras.
The state police tried out the cameras and tested their capabilities, but Vance said because of the size of the state police department did not pursue getting the cameras. But for smaller departments, Vance said he knows they are used.
“It’s a good tool to protect the officer and to protect the people we serve,” Vance said.