PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) — After numerous petitions over the years calling for body cameras to be worn by officers with the Pittsfield Police Department, eight cameras were expected to debut with the department this week. However, according to Mayor Linda Tyer Tuesday evening, there is a hold up.
“I think there were some issues raised this week that the police union needs to work through… I can’t speak in great detail to that…” When asked by a city council member about a timeline for when the cameras could debut through the pilot program, Mayor Tyer says she hopes “as soon as possible.”
The call for body cameras dates back to at least 2017 when Pittsfield Police shot and killed 36-year old Daniel Gillis who was reportedly “distraught” and charged at officers with a knife. The call was repeated earlier this year after 22-year Miguel Estrella was also shot and killed by police in which he was also armed with a knife and allegedly advanced towards police.
Following a months-long investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting of Miguel Estrella in Pittsfield, the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office determined the shooting was an act of self-defense.
Since Estrella’s death in March, Pittsfield Police have been working towards body camera implementation according to a letter sent to the Pittsfield city council by the chief of police. “We’ve been asking the police department as well as the community for transparency and our police officers, our police chief, our mayor are all on board so they’ve been looking into how to implement body cameras for the past few months,” explains council member Patrick Kavey. “They have narrowed it down to three different companies that could potentially work with us.”
Attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo, who put forth a petition for body cameras says while he is disappointed at the delay, he is confident the cameras will come for all 96 officers. “The beauty of body cameras is that it protects the innocent and prosecutes the guilty,” says Del Gallo. “Whether that be law enforcement or the citizens and that’s why it is a great thing to have. That’s why I can’t wait until it is funded.”
Funding for the body cameras has not been secured. Mayor Tyer says the city is in the process of applying for grants. Once the pilot program hits the ground running, it will go on for several weeks before the city and police department commit to a vendor.