Police body cams for the Worcester Police Department: Let’s hear about it!

By Edith Morgan

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Edith

We have talked about it, and the City of Worcester has a plan. But, we the people, are still waiting for the Worcester City Council to schedule a public hearing about the program. That should be scheduled in cooperation by the Worcester Human Rights Commission and the Worcester Police Department. WPD Chief Steve Sargent MUST BE PRESENT!

Worcester City Councilor Khrystian King has been pushing to get the hearings under way, as Worcester is the last of
Massachusetts’ major cities to implement the program.

Hearings can be scheduled as soon as the two groups decide, and it has been suggested that there be one such hearing in each district.

Holding these hearings all over the city seems like a good move, as the general public really needs to be heard – and also to have their questions answered in a smaller setting than the media or the Worcester city council meetings.

The Massachusetts State Legislature is working on a set of regulations for the use of this new technology, but there is no reason to hold off hearings while the Legislature finalizes its work.

It would seem the ball is in the court of the WPD police department and th. CITY’S Human Rights Commission. Our city council subcommittee, headed by CC Kate Toomey and our City Manager, Ed Augustus, have done their part, and they are awaiting action by the other parties.

We as interested citizens and residents can get in touch with our district councilors and our legislators and demand we all speed the process!

There are still a great many questions to be answered: this program involves a sizable expenditure for the initial purchase of the equipment, but it also involves continued expenditures for maintenance. The hearings should clear up any question the public has about the efficacy of this program – what is it supposed to help, and what do the statistics from other communities using it show?

There is quite a lot of information on Wikipedia, for those who want to delve more deeply into this area. There are several versions of these body cameras, and there are also cameras that can be mounted on police vehicles. And there is the question of when the filming should start, and what should be recorded. And who will get to review the film and how soon after the event …

The quality of the pictures that aIl have seen thus far has not been great, and the scope is narrow enough so that it is hard to get the whole picture of any event. The reason that the George Floyd murder was so unequivocal and clear is that it was photographed by a very steady hand, for the entire event, and from a sufficient distance so that the entire event, bystanders and all, was included.

It would be ideal if every encounter that involves police violence could be so well documented, but body cams will come nowhere near this. Will the expense of this new technology give us enough good information to meet our objectives? To the Worcester public hearings to find out!