TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Seven officers each shift are on Troy city streets wearing the body cameras budgeted, planned and talked about since 2018.
“It’s been a long time coming, but a lot of effort’s been put into the policy writing which is still in negotiation,” says Deputy Chief Dan DeWolf.
The city received funding for the body cams in December 2018 and the measure was approved by city council in August 2019; however, negotiations dragged out the process. DeWolf also says the COVID-19 pandemic played a major roll in slowing things down.
“We probably would’ve been here now last year, you know what I mean? But it kind of all got pushed back to the side for a while,” he explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
DeWolf says the first officers wearing cameras hit the streets Thursday and following an initial technical glitch, reported no problems. He says the department has 120 cameras — enough to outfit every officer on the force, but they’re starting small to catch technical bugs and adjust to the learning curve.
“It’s not just turn it on and away you go. There’s different, you know, privacy concerns depending on the calls that you’re on. If you’re dealing with say a sexual assault victim or a child or you’re in a school or the hospital, there’s a lot of different times when we’re not going to have the camera on,” he explains.
Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly says luckily her office is well used to the technology and will be ready to use the first videos as soon as they’re available.
“We are already using it as a resource with other agencies, so we’re familiar with the benefits of it as well as the difficulties in terms of having to have it uploaded and turned over with new discovery laws,” Donnelly says.
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden offered this statement:
Beginning the deployment of police body worn cameras in the Collar City is a positive step forward in the Troy Police Department’s proactive approach to strengthen relationships with the residents, families and community they serve. Over the coming months, TPD will conduct a phased deployment of this new technology to ensure a successful department-wide rollout. I thank Chief Owens and command staff who helped configure and implement this program, and the officers for their cooperation in training and deployment of BWCs in our community.
“The transparency, you know, for the community and showing them, you know, that hey, we’re not afraid to show you how we work, because this is a great Police Department. We do a great job, and it’s also protection for the officer,” DeWolf adds.
Donnelly also adds it’s about time Troy caught up with changing times.
“When we’re able to see each other while we chat on the phone and were able to take immediate videos of things going on, you know humans and jurors specifically, they want to know. They want to see, and when it’s absent, I think it causes a lot of suspicion and frustration. So I think in the world we live in, it’s a must,” she says.
“There’s also a growing trend where people video tape our officers interacting with suspects, and that video may have started two minutes, even ten minutes, after the initial encounter. The cameras will allow us to see what happened at the initial interaction and make a determination on what caused any kind of escalation, hopefully making the truth and facts easier to digest for everyone,” Donnelly goes on to say.