PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — There’s a push for body and dashboard cameras to be used by the Pittsfield Police Department after a man was shot and killed by an officer. But reaction to the petition in the Berkshire County community is mixed as to whether or not the cameras should be used.
Rinaldo Del Gallo is a Pittsfield attorney who is behind a petition asking for body and dashboard cameras to be installed for use by the Pittsfield Police force.
“Do you really want police officers shooting people without it being videotaped?” said Del Gallo, of the petition and the use of body and dash cams. “It’s not pro-citizen or pro-police. It’s pro-truth.”
He started the push in response to the death of Miguel Estrella. Estrella was shot and killed by an unidentified Pittsfield officer on March 25 when the officer, along with another police officer, responded to Estrella’s address. Both claim Estrella advanced upon them with a knife.
Estrella’s girlfriend told NEWS10’s Anya Tucker that he was only a threat to himself. She said on the night the officers responded, he was in crisis, struggling with mental illness and cutting himself. There were no police cameras recording the moments leading up to the fatal shooting.
“It’s an easy fix. But is it the right fix? It is the fix that will actually make a difference? And I don’t believe that it is,” said former Pittsfield city council member Helen Moon of the cameras.
“It does not keep police officers and police departments accountable. And it does cost a lot of money. And what it does do is increase surveillance on people and certain people’s lives,” she added.
Dubois Thomas worked closely with Estrella as a colleague with Central Berkshire Habitat For Humanity. He told NEWS10’s Anya Tucker that he feels there should be more focus on supporting the community and people who need help before it becomes a crisis.
“I believe the jury is still out on whether or not body cameras have a positive impact on policing.” Thomas said he does not feel that body or dash cams would have made a difference in Estrella’s case.
“No. If someone wants to tell me that that is going to change the way that police officers behave and that they are going to take more time to think about their actions, then I’m all for it. But until that happens, no.”
The Pittsfield Police and the mayor’s office have not responded to repeated requests from NEWS10 for comment on the petition or the use of body and dashboard cameras.
Del Gallo says the petition will be presented to the city council during their meeting Tuesday night at 6 p.m. He said he has organized a gathering before the meeting at 5:30 p.m., and he expects several people to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.