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Colchester Police to use body cameras starting in the fall

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 11:15 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:10 AM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - Colchester Police officers will be adding body cameras to their uniforms in the near future.

Residents got a look at the department’s policies at Tuesday night’s select board meeting. Colchester Police Chief Doug Allen says it’s all about transparency. He says it keeps them accountable and makes the court process easier.

Community members like Phyllis Bryden agree that it’s a good call.

“I think it might be really warranted here,” Bryden said. “I think it would be helpful knowing the camcorders are on and people knowing they’re on so they can be caught and be recognized and proven guilty.”

Nobody at the meeting opposed the decision to implement a police body camera program. Chief Allen said they did their research and he feels that this will help with transparency.

“The state has had an interest in this. A policy was drafted by them a short time ago. We had been working for a policy for a short time before that and we were able to mesh those policies,” said Allen.

He says they also looked into other municipalities’ policies for guidance.

Allen said the cameras are on the way, but there is a delay in getting them here because of supply chain issues. The chief hopes to have the cameras up and running by this fall.

“We want to have trust in our community. We want to make sure our community has trust in us,” Allen explained. “We want to have a way if an officer is accused of something, we have a way of documenting if the accusation is justified or not.”

Allen said the cameras are on the way, but there is a delay in getting them here because of supply chain issues. The chief hopes to have the cameras up and running by this fall.

“We want to have trust in our community. We want to make sure our community has trust in us,” Allen explained. “We want to have a way if an officer is accused of something, we have a way of documenting if the accusation is justified or not.”.

Colchester Town Manager Aaron Frank said a grant will cover the first two years of the program.

“Over the longer term, we will need to raise tax funds for that,” Frank said. “We do feel it’s for the public good and for the department’s good, so it will be in future years budgets.”

Frank said it’s too soon to tell how much taxes would go up.

The Burlington Police already use the cameras and Burlington resident Stephen Scuderi said the cost is worth it.

“It helps them be accountable,” he said. “Like all the stuff that happened in Burlington. The public can really see what’s going on.”

The information included in the policy reviewed at Tuesday’s meeting includes how long footage will be kept, when cameras should be on or off, and when the video will be made public.

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