Police body camera proposal considered by Town Council

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The North Attleborough Police Department has a contract to outfit officers with body cameras with the goal of strengthening trust between the community and department.

The Town Council voted 8-0 on the evening of Oct. 24 to refer to the Finance Subcommittee a proposed five-year contract with Axon Enterprise Inc. to secure body camera hardware to be worn by members of the department who are qualified and trained to operate it.

Axon Enterprise Inc. is an Arizona-based manufacturing company specializing in equipment used by law enforcement and the military.

Town Manager Mike Borg said the contract with Axon costs $352,440 total, with three different funding sources.

“It comes from capital improvement funding, grants from the state, and free cash that’s certified this fiscal year,” Borg said.

North Attleborough Police Capt. Jason Roy told the council data from the footage will go to a site called evidence.com where he and the police chief would have access to it. He said during motor vehicle stops or when a weapon is pulled out of an officer’s holster, the camera will automatically activate.

“No one can delete anything,” Roy said. “If something gets accidentally recorded in a locker room for example, they can ask for permission to be deleted. Other than that, all the evidence goes to this website.”

The reason to purchase and learn how to operate body cameras is to create a safe, yet trusting environment between officers and civilians, Police Chief Richard McQuade told The Reporter.   The chief said the cameras will be worn in public and worn only by specific individuals who pass training and meet expectations set by the department.

“This will be a learning experience for everybody,” McQuade said. “The advantages of having body cameras is that it builds public trust with our officers and more importantly—to ensure our officers uphold the highest standards and are accountable for their actions.”

Throughout the year, the department held working groups to provide feedback on the benefits or concerns of wearing and operating body cameras.

McQuade noted that the discussions held were with members of the police department and not the general public. He said, however, he believed the citizens of North Attleborough would support the idea.

“It promotes transparency,” he said. “The people have the right to trust their police department and its members. Again, this will be a learning curve for all of us, and we are going to make sure that we have sergeants and supervisors who are properly trained with this type of technology.”