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Utica Police to implement body camera policy to increase accountability, safety

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Accountability for cop, criminal and citizen alike will soon move beyond the dashboard for Utica Police and the citizens with whom they interact.  The department will soon be outfitted with body cameras, which fasten to their uniform and record audio and video of every interaction with citizens. 
     
"This will bring people together and it is change," said Mayor Palmieri.  He and Police Chief Mark Williams have been discussing the body cameras for a year and a half.  Senator Joe Griffo on Thursday joined the two to announce a $60,000 state grant to pay for them. The police chief says they will strengthen the public's faith in the officers who serve them. 
    
"The public is no longer willing to just take our word for it, they actually want to be able to see it. Especially with all the changes in technology nowadays. They expect it. People talk about transparency, you won't get more transparency than this. And on top of it, I'm looking to protect my officers," says Chief Williams.
      
The chief also hopes the cameras will help protect officers. 
    
"Protect them against lawsuits, protect them against personnel complaints that are frivolous, and more importantly, having this technology on your body, given the day and age when people aren't afraid to challenge the authority of an armed police officer physically, that they know they're being videotaped and this is a powerful piece of evidence to be used against them in court." 
      
The cameras cost $400 each.  Right now, the chief and mayor are working out things like storage, charging, usage policy and night use.  They say the plan is for officers to have the cameras by the end of the year, possibly within the next few months. 

 

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