Westbrook Police Chief Sean Lally expects all on-duty uniformed officers will be wearing body cameras in the city as early as November and at latest by the end of the year.

“Over the last year there has been a lot of outcry for (body cameras), so the supply has been taxed. Companies that make them have seen a lot of demand,” Lally said. “We are asking for a small department, we are getting 24. Who knows what other big cities are also getting some cameras, and those larger orders would get priority.” 

The City Council has given unanimous preliminary to buy the two dozen cameras for about $59,000.

His officers have asked for the cameras, Lally said, and residents support their use as well.

It’s really considered best practice in the industry. In 2021, a department without body-worn cameras is behind the eight ball,” Lally said. “People demand transparency and accountability for law enforcement. The citizens we serve are definitely in favor of body-worn cameras.”

In addition to department transparency, advocates, including Councilor Claude Rwaganje, have said the cameras also will provide an assurance of fair treatment in light of recent statistics that show disproportionately high police use-of-force incidents involving Black residents in the city.

“When used they really can help make sure it is fair to everyone and cut out the he-said-she-said. The camera will show what happened,” Rwaganje said previously.

The cameras protect people from “abuses of power, but also shield officers and the city from frivolous complaints,” Lally said in an Aug. 30 memo to the city along with the request for purchase.

When there’s a dispute or a complaint, Lally said, the first question anyone asks is “where’s the video?” Police departments without body cameras are at a disadvantage when it comes to transparency, he said.

“I prioritize taking care of that as chief,” he said.   

The cameras will be recording at all times. If an officer forgets to turn on his or her camera at the start of a shift, it will automatically switch on when the officer activates the cruiser’s emergency lights.

“We are grateful for Chief Lally and his forward-thinking to properly equip our police officers. Having this new tool within the Police Department will help protect both the public and our officers documenting incidents that may require additional review,” Mayor Mike Foley told the American Journal.

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