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Police Preparing To Use Bodycams On Patrol

Published: July 13, 2018 at 12:00 am

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Police Chief James Viadero told Police Commission members this week that police have received a shipment of 42 body-worn cameras and related computer equipment, which they plan to start using to create video/audio recordings of their interactions with the public while on patrol. The police department has 45 members.

Chief Viadero said at a July 10 Police Commission meeting that he expects it will take two to three months before the portable surveillance system, employing what are commonly known as "bodycams," will be fully functioning.

The chief said July 11 that certain information technology issues will need to be resolved before the equipment is in full use. The use of bodycams involves the need to store the large amounts of computer data that is generated by such electronic devices.

Before deciding on which bodycam to acquire, police field-tested three brands of the surveillance devices in seeking to learn which unit is best suited for local law enforcement based on its features and capabilities. Bodycams are being increasingly used by police departments to provide a visual/sonic record of police/public interactions for the sake of accountability on the part of both police and the public.

Police have used dashboard-mounted cameras in patrol cars for many years to create a visual/sonic record of their interactions with motorists.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Aaron Bahamonde on July 11 displayed the compact, lightweight Vie-Vu brand camera that police will have mounted on their chests while on patrol. The black plastic devices are about the size of deck of cards. People being recorded by the devices would not necessarily know that the audio/video system is running.

Lt Bahamonde said that the police use of the devices will be phased in, with the system planned to be fully operational by October 1.

The Police Commission, with advice from the police union, will formulate a policy and procedures on the police use of bodycams, the lieutenant said. The town will be fully reimbursed by a state grant of $69,434 for the purchase of the bodycams and related equipment, Lt Bahamonde said.

In August 2015, Police Commission members decided that equipping town police officers with bodycams is a good idea and endorsed acquiring the devices.

 

Road Projects

Chief Viadero told Police Commission members July 10 that to improve traffic flow, police are seeking to expedite several state Department of Transportation (DOT) road improvement projects currently underway in town.

The state projects include the replacement of a Sugar Street bridge, which crosses a brook at the northern end of Ram Pasture; the relocation of Pecks Lane's northern intersection with South Main Street several hundred feet to the south of its current location; and the relocation of the southern end of Edmond Road to the west so that Edmond Road forms a conventional four-way signalized intersection with Church Hill Road and Commerce Road.

Additionally, town bridge replacement projects are underway to replace a span on Walnut Tree Hill Road near its intersection with Glen Road, and to replace a bridge on Toddy Hill road near its intersection with Berkshire Road.

The town soon plans to install temporary speed bumps on Birch Rise Drive and on Juniper Road to hold down the speed of motorists who have been using those two residential streets to avoid Sugar Street's intersection with South Main Street, Glover Avenue, and Main Street during the ongoing Sugar Street bridge replacement project. Chief Viadero said he hopes the presence of the speed bumps will discourage motorists from using the two residential streets as a detour around the bridge construction project.

On July 10, the chief commented on a recent spate of auto thefts locally. "It's an ongoing problem... We're on it, but it's problematic," he said.

On July 11, he added, "The thefts have subsided, but are cyclical. We are hopeful that our [June 28] arrest and deployment of personnel have curtailed the issue... The public information on [theft] prevention is a key element in thwarting future events."

Police urge residents to lock and secure their unattended vehicles. Keys and key fobs should not be left in unattended vehicles. Valuables should not be left in vehicles, whether the vehicles are locked or unlocked.

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This Week's Poll

Newtown Cultural Arts Commission is presenting or coordinating on six weeks of special events. Which event are you looking forward to the most? (Visit our Features page for a full story with details about all of these events.)

“In The Bag” exhibition, on view to September 28
0% (0 votes)
The Lords of 52nd Street concert, September 14
0% (0 votes)
Newtown Arts Festival weekend, September 15-16
50% (1 vote)
“An Evening of the Arts,” September 15
50% (1 vote)
“The Fox on the Fairway” production by Town Players of Newtown, weekends September 21-October 13
0% (0 votes)
“The Main Street Replica Project,” launching September 25
0% (0 votes)
Someday Cinema Series screenings of “The Blues Brothers,” September 30
0% (0 votes)
Photography display “In Our Rearview Mirror” by Marleen Cafarelli, et al, October 1-30
0% (0 votes)
“Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb” with Tinky Weisblat, October 3
0% (0 votes)
Newtown Day, October 6
0% (0 votes)
The 3rd Annual Newtown-Sandy Hook Restaurant Week, October 8-14
0% (0 votes)
Basket weaving workshop with Tina Puckett, October 13
0% (0 votes)
“Courageous Conversations in A Complex World,” October 17
0% (0 votes)
Live at ETH: David Wax Museum concert, October 19
0% (0 votes)
The 2nd Annual Fall Carnival at Fairfield Hills, October 19-21
0% (0 votes)
Connecticut Author’s Reading Series, October 21
0% (0 votes)
Natalie’s Open Mic, October 21
0% (0 votes)
“The Wordsmiths,” October 24
0% (0 votes)
Pianist Konstanza Chernov, October 28
0% (0 votes)
Someday Cinema Series double feature screenings of “Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Beast with Five Fingers,” October 29
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 2