Legislature to Appropriate $8 Million for Purchase and Implementation of Body Camera Program
Trainings Scheduled to Begin Next Week
Click Here for Photos from Today’s Announcement
As part of the County’s historic Police Reform and Reinvention Plan, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison today announced the first phase of deployment of body worn cameras for Suffolk County Police Officers, following the selection of the vendor Axon. Beginning in July, approximately 130 officers stationed at the 7th precinct will be equipped with body-worn cameras.
“There is no denying it, cameras change everything by providing video and audio that allows an event to be independently verified,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Our body worn camera program will highlight good police work where needed and ensure that everyone is treated justly and fair. This program will protect our officers, ensure accountability, and build upon the public trust.”
“Today we take another major step forward in our effort to implement the County’s Police Reform and Reinvention Plan as we prepare to deploy our Body Worn Camera program,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison. “Not only does this comprehensive management and training tool help tell the true narrative of what happened during any incident or interaction with police, it encourages lawful and respectful interactions between police officers and the public.”
Currently, as part of a pilot program, a limited number of SCPD Officers wear body cameras. In an effort to increase transparency and accountability, the County’s historic Police Reform Plan proposed that body worn cameras be deployed as standard police worn equipment for all Suffolk County police officers who engage with the public in the course of their professional duties.
County Executive Bellone included $24 million over a five-year period in the Capital Budget for the purchase of the cameras, implementation of the program and maintenance of the body worn cameras and data systems, and next week, the Suffolk County Legislature will appropriate the first $8 million for the implementation of the program.
The County will enter into a 5-year agreement with Axon Enterprises, with the second deployment of cameras expected at the end of the summer. The SCPD’s most recent recruit class to graduate received body worn camera training at the academy, and beginning next week, Axon and subject matter experts will begin precinct level trainings.
Officers will receive 4 hours of training on policy and procedural instruction, along with additional key information regarding the equipment and hardware. Investigators and supervisors will also receive two hours of training provided by Axon. In addition to the Axon led training sessions, Axon will provide train the trainer sessions to subject matter experts.
As part of the contract with Axon, patrol cars will be outfitted with wireless upload capabilities and docking stations to enable quick and timely uploading of body camera footage while officers are still in the field. Officers will then categorize the footage in Axon’s evidence management system, and transmit it to the District Attorney as necessary for prosecution.
In addition to its evidentiary value and impact on transparency and accountability, body camera footage will be used to enhance officer performance and encourage lawful and respectful interactions between police officers and the public.
The reinvention plan, developed in collaboration with the County’s Police Reform task force and Co-Chairs Deputy County Executive Vanessa Baird-Streeter and Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman, focuses on seven major points for reform; Training and Continuing Education, Recruitment and Staffing, Community Policing, Traffic Stops, Arrests and Warrants, Mental Health Response and Police Systems, Accountability and Body Cameras.