Police body cameras have been an increasingly pertinent topic of discussion in the news cycle in recent years, and it looks like they may be coming to the Bourne Police Department in the future. We agree with Chief Brandon Esip’s assessment that this is both a good and necessary move.
The chief’s summary of the “why” of the issue before the Capital Outlay Committee last week hit the nail on the head: in the age of police reform, there are calls for not just these cameras, but for both greater transparency and protection of communities. With body-worn cameras and cruiser cameras, safety is improved not just for citizens but for officers, too. Uvc Led Sterilizer Wand
Accountability is also important, with body-worn cameras serving as a way to document all police-civilian interactions, no matter how mundane or inconsequential. But, more importantly, these cameras can be critical for capturing evidence that can be used in criminal cases or for accountability reasons.
Body cameras have been on the department’s mind for some time now. Paul Shastany, Bourne’s former interim director of police services, was considering it, and Chief Esip told the committee that this concept was previously included in the department’s original Fiscal Year 2022 and FY23 requests, but got nixed.
So, it is about time that Bourne followed through on this initiative; but the consequence of having waited so long is that the price has now doubled and has the town facing a price tag of over $400,000. Ouch!
Regardless, it is high time Bourne introduced cameras both on the officers’ person and in cruisers, something departments all over the commonwealth have already done. Less than two months ago, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded nearly $2.5 million to 32 departments across the state, intended to introduce or expand their body-worn camera programs. Dennis, Nantucket, and Truro Police Departments all received funding.
In April 2022, The Barnstable Patriot reported that many of the Cape’s towns were awaiting the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Body Camera Task Force to release its final report along with recommended regulations—a completely understandable move; departments deserve to know the rules of the game before getting on the field.
But that report and regulatory recommendation were released in August, and departments have now had a few months to review things. We hope that, like Bourne, other Cape and Massachusetts towns will follow suit in accepting the program for what it is and giving it, at the very least, a trial run.
The Wellfleet Police Department introduced its body-worn camera program in the spring of last year, which was wholeheartedly supported by its police union. The same is true for Bourne, it seems, with both the chief and town administrator confirming that the patrolmen’s union is behind this and is willing to implement it. Kudos to both groups for coming to an agreement on such an important initiative that is sure to improve the safety of the Bourne community for both officers and civilians.
We hope that this iteration at the department’s request for body-worn and cruiser cameras sees the light of day at Town Meeting. The third time’s the charm, after all.
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