The Westbrook City Council gave preliminary approval to a capital improvement plan Monday that includes a number of upgrades across departments, including 24 body cameras for police.

Westbrook Police Chief Sean Lally said he hopes to have body cameras in use by September. Screenshot / Westbrook Community TV

Police Chief Sean Lally said he hopes to roll out the cameras by September if the capital improvement plan is approved. The cameras, costing a total of $75,000, will be able to be used by multiple officers, so every officer on duty would wear one.

“Its’ a good thing to give credibility to the police as well as the community for fair treatment for everybody,” Councilor Claude Rwaganje said.

Rwaganje has been critical of the department in the past, highlighting experiences of racism against Black community members.

“We have a policy in place, which we follow,” Lally said. “Every officer has a microphone. We have policy that it has to be on, and that’ll carry over to cameras. I enforce that, and if people violate the policy there are consequences. Our officers also want the body cameras and transparency, so its not a hard sell for me.”

Body cameras will be funded entirely by city funds, though costs could come in less than what is allotted, Lally said. The majority of the cost, he said, is in implementing the technology for them.

The city will also replace two cruisers for $120,000, using $26,000 from funds raised by police details and the rest covered by the city, and purchase a $12,000 portable speed sign.

At Walker Memorial Library, the plan calls for the city to replace old self checkout kiosks for $35,000, paid for out of the library reserve, as well as library network upgrades for $20,000, funded from the general fund.

The Community Center will get retractable basketball hoops for $51,000, with $37,500 from donations and $13,500 from recreational reserve funds.

The Fire Department will receive a $1.1 million fire truck donated from Waterstone, the developers of Rock Row. The city will also replace cardiac monitors for $137,000 using $87,000 from the fire reserve, and replacing a rescue vehicle funded by the sale of an older vehicle.

More than $2 million in upgrades are slotted for William Clarke Drive, with the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System covering $1.3 million and Waterstone $880,000.

An additional $1 million in paving upgrades have been added, on top of $750,000 already allotted in the budget. The public services department will get a $250,000 bucket truck.

Improvements also are in store for the Prides Corner intersection for $500,000, half paid for by state funds.

Councilors and City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the plan targets big needs in the community with over $10 million in outside funding to meet those needs, using only $2 million from city sources.

Bryant said the city in previous years would borrow money to pay for capital improvements.

Mayor Mike Foley said the goal now is to use the improvement plan as a way to introduce some key items into the general budget over time without having to pay bond fees or interest.

Had the $2 million of city funds for projects been bonded, it would cost the city an additional $400,000 over the 10-year financing cycle, according to City Finance Director Suzanne Knight.

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