The town of Watervliet in Albany County has started a police body camera program.
Every officer, detective and force command officer this month was equipped with a camera.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Watervliet public information officer Mathieu Cusson said the cameras are always on and can be switched to record with the press of a button…
“So once I’ve done that, I double tap it…now it registers.” It records video, it records audio…”
High resolution cameras can also be activated when an officer removes their weapon from its holster. The cameras include stealth recording mode, GPS, wireless connectivity and unlimited cloud storage.
Police showed footage captured in two recent incidents. A clip shown to reporters depicts a May building fire on Starbuck Island.
The other showed two different angles of a recent interaction between police and townspeople, where a dog was tackled after biting an officer.
“It’s a screenshot. Obviously the officer is being attacked by the dog.
The deployment of 25 cameras comes after a pilot program in January.
Watervliet Police Chief Joseph Centanni, who became chief in the spring of 2021, said setting up a body camera program was one of his short-term goals.
“I’m confident that our body-worn camera program will help address crime and disorder issues, help keep our neighborhoods safe, and have a positive impact on the way we run our service,” Centanni said. .
The cameras will cost the city about $40,000 a year for five years. Watervliet Mayor Charles Patricelli said the cost and labor involved in deploying the camera was one of the reasons the town had not adopted the cameras earlier.
“The use and benefits outweigh the cost, especially if you can work to afford it. It was never a thing, like, we didn’t want it because it would be something that would be detrimental to the police department or the men or anything like that… it was basically to protect them and the residents “said Patricelli.
The city has also hired a civilian employee dedicated to coordinating the discovery as required by the district attorney’s office and handling body camera video evidence. The rental allows a full-time sergeant originally assigned to handle the video to return to the streets.
The cameras were recommended by the Watervliet State-mandated Policing Policy Review Board in March 2021 as a way to improve transparency.
Chief Centanni says body cameras also help improve accountability.
“We are going to make mistakes; we make mistakes. And when we do, we recognize them, we learn from them, we move forward. And that’s the number one thing I’ve always found in building trust with the community: being honest with them. They recognize that you’re going to make mistakes, but a big part of that goes to show that we want to further build the confidence that we have,” Centanni said.