Worcester Police Begins Body Cam Pilot Program

The 6-month program with 20 officers begins on the same day Boston Police moved forward with their program

Police in Worcester, Massachusetts are putting on body cameras for the first time this week.

The department has started a six-month pilot program with 20 officers to increase transparency, resolve complaints, deescalate volatile situations and improve officer training.

"Anytime they engage in police action, whether it's a call or a car stop or something like that, they turn the camera on before," said Worcester Police Lt. Sean Murtha.

The video is saved and stored with the camera's manufacturer Axon, which is also funding the pilot program. What's been recorded is also accessible to the officer and the department.

"Every use of force, every arrest is going to be looked at by an official, of some sort, we also have an audit committee that goes and looks at random videos," said Murtha.

The cameras come just as Boston Police announced Friday they are moving forward with body cameras after their successful pilot program.

"It's about building trust, it's about giving police officers more options as far as their uniform and having the opportunity to have body cameras there for backing up what they see," said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Residents in Worcester say they hope the cameras are used successfully in their city as well as they have been in Boston.

"It's really just a whole lot more surveillance to kind of keep everybody in line really," said George Torres of Worcester.

The ACLU says while it has some concerns with privacy and establishing policies where the cameras shouldn’t be used, it's supportive of the department testing out the technology.

"We've also recommended strongly in our model policy that the technology not be used for surveillance purposes," said ACLU Central Massachusetts Field Coordinator Chris Robarge. "Implemented correctly, it's an advantageous tool for both the community and the police department."

Worcester Police say they will do a comprehensive study after the pilot program is done — interviewing those officers involved while looking at whether it's financially feasible.

Boston hopes to have officers in two districts outfitted with the cameras by the end of spring.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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