PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — The Pittsfield City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to have police officers equipped with body cameras and dashboard cameras. The matter was referred to the Pittsfield Mayor and Police Chief Michael Wynn for implementation.
In light of the officer-involved shootings of both Miguel Estrella and Daniel Gillis, the City of Pittsfield was petitioned by Rinaldo Del Gallo to equip Pittsfield Police officers with body-worn cameras. As of April 13, 105 people had signed the petition—and that number grew before the May 10 meeting of the City Council.
The petition read, “We, the undersigned, in light of the shooting of Miguel Estrella and Daniel Gillis where there was no body camera footage, hereby petition the City of Pittsfield to equip Pittsfield Police Officers with body cameras and police cruisers with dashboard cameras. Video footage greatly assists in the preservation of the truth with respect to police encounters. It neither favors the citizen interacting with the police nor the police officers themselves-it neutrally captures what actually occurred.”
The petition has now been amended to include that the City Council endorses the Police Department to obtain the cameras and that the motion has been approved. It was a unanimous vote. “It’s a community effort, the council did it, so there’s a real emphasis on we the community and this is a community victory,” said local attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo.
“I am deeply grateful to the Pittsfield City Council and all the community that made it happen. So many of you turned out. I want to especially thank Jacquelyn Sykes. Her powerful words were most helpful,” said Del Gallo. Sykes’ boyfriend, Gillis, was shot by Pittsfield Police officers four years ago.
Several people turned out for Miguel Estrella as well, including his sister Elina Estrella. She questioned how the Hub Model Program the Pittsfield Police uses is working. She also asked what the function of the Police Advisory Board is, and stated that residents should not be afraid to contact the police for help.
A preliminary report was released at the end of April in the Estrella case. The report ultimately found that the Pittsfield Police Department’s use of deadly force was in line with department policies, reading, “On the basis of the preliminary FIT report, Officer Sondrini’s TASER deployment and subsequent use of his firearm in response to a perceived imminent deadly threat is in compliance with all relevant department policies, training guidelines, statutory requirements, and use of force guidelines.”
This sparked the petition, which has been reviewed by the City Council before—on April 26, it was referred to subcommittees for review. It was then drafted into legislation before Tuesday’s approval.
The persistence of those who supported the petition seems to have paid off. City Councilor Ken Warran is working on a governing ordinance for the body cameras, and they could be implemented in the coming months.