Middletown Police Now Have Body Cameras

Officers Will Wear Body Cameras When Interacting With Public In Uniform. Each Of 71 Members Of City Of Middletown Police Department

Middletown Police Now Have Body Cameras
By Rachel Ettlinger

City police officers will now wear body cameras when interacting with the public in uniform.  Each of the 71 members of the City of Middletown Police Department, from the chief to the school resource officers, have been given an Axon Body 3 camera to wear, said police Chief John Ewanciw.

Some members of the force have worked with the cameras for the last month to test them out. But all officers are able to use them as of Wednesday as the body camera program was fully implemented. “Between cellphones, public and private video systems, I think that’s the time that we’re in right now is that we are on camera,” Ewanciw said. “This is going to give the officers – from their viewpoint – a perspective of what actually occurred. … I think it’s going to improve the trust in the community and show that the officers are doing a great job out there.” Members can turn the camera on and off by touching a large round button just below the lens. When that button is pressed, the 30 seconds prior are also logged on the recording, Ewanciw said. Four microphones on the camera pick up sound.

The cameras automatically turn on when certain lights are activated in a police cruiser, when an officer draws their department-issued weapon, or when another nearby officer activates their camera.  There are protocols and procedures department members will follow when recording, both Ewanciw and Mayor Joseph DeStefano said. Those will be made available for the public to read online, DeStefano added. For instance, cameras will be turned off when officers enter a home unless a visit pertains to a criminal investigation, DeStefano detailed.

“Overall, people will just need to be aware that they are going to be taped also. The cameras are going to work both ways,” DeStefano said. “They’re going to work to show us how members of the police department are behaving and also those in like a traffic stop, that’s where we get most of the complaints.” The department has a 10-year contract for the equipment, software and hardware for the cameras that totals a cost of $1.5 million, or about $143,354 per year. That includes the cost of hiring a part-time employee to maintain the new body camera program and equipment.

This news was originally published at Record Online