With new and pending police contracts containing language that will allow the City to move forward on implementing body-worn cameras for all Chelsea Police officers, this week local police officials said they were comfortable with the plan and anticipated no opposition.
Chief Brian Kyes said he and the members of the department are eager to implement the program. He said he still has to draft regulations for the cameras, and communicate expectations for their use – as well as go through the purchasing process – but is ready to get them on the street.
“I strongly believe that body-worn cameras can help improve the high-quality public service that is expected of Chelsea Police Officers which will in turn promote the actual and perceived legitimacy, impartiality and sense of procedural justice that our community relies on from the men and women of the Chelsea Police Department,” he said. “Many Police Chiefs that I know personally, both within the Commonwealth and across the country, who are already deploying body-worn cameras in their departments tell me that the presence of the cameras often improves not only the performance and the professionalism of the officers who are wearing them but also the conduct of the community members who are being recorded as well resulting in far less civilian complaints.”
He also added that he expected an increased level of transparency and accountability in the rank, which he said is welcomed.
“I am confident that there will no doubt be an increased level of transparency and accountability within our ranks from the utilization of this equipment,” he said. “We are definitely eager to select a vendor and deploy the cameras with our assigned personnel as soon as we can.”
Patrol Officers Union President Anthony Morales said a lot of the members of his union support having cameras because it backs up their proper actions.
“I think with today’s challenges, a lot of officers are for them because it also hold the public accountable for their actions,” he said. “The public likes to look at one part of a video and they cut in and don’t give the context of what led up to that moment. The officers I work with are for them, but they believe we should be compensated because it is a huge liability. It’s not a change in working conditions, but a huge responsibility within our working conditions.”
Morales said many of the officers are more worried about the regulations that will go along with it than they are about the concept of having their actions on video all the time. He said they worry about what might happen if they forget to turn it on, or it’s not on properly. “I’d say 90 percent of it is great, it’s just that 10 percent that worries our officers a bit,” he said. “It’s the first time for this. I think it will be good in the long run. When it does come out, let’s see how the public changes. In our city, we don’t have an issue with such things like they do in some other communities because our department is so ahead of the game with training…It will be a game-changer in policing here.”